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pen name

an author's pseudonym

Pen Name


(also, pseudonym), a name used by an author or artist instead of his real name.

Pen names have long been used, for various reasons: to escape the censor’s notice, to emphasize a trait of the author or of his work, or to present the author as something other than he actually is (a literary mask). Other reasons have been the wish to avoid a noneuphonious last name, class prejudice, fear of failure as a writer, and the existence of other persons with the same last name. Pen names may be considered a type of literary hoax.

A number of authors have used many pen names in addition to the main one: Voltaire had more than 160 and V. I. Lenin more than 150. Sometimes pen names were joined to the real last name (M. E. Saltykov-Shchedrin). Many pen names replaced the actual last name and became the name by which the author was known (Molière, Stendhal, Gorky, Lenin). There are also collective pen names, such as Koz’ma Prutkov.

There are more than 50 types of pen names or pseudonyms. Such names may indicate an author’s nationality (Lesia Ukrainka), his place of birth or residence (D. N. Mamin-Sibiriak), his social status, occupation, convictions, or character traits (Besposhchadnyi, “ruthless”), or the distinctive features of his work (Navoi, “melodic”). Pen names may purposefully indicate the wrong sex (George Sand), nationality (G. Apollinaire-Kostrowitski), occupation (the beekeeper Rudyi Pan’ko-N. V. Gogol), or disposition (Emil’ Krotkii [”gentle,”]-E. German). Some pen names are made up of elements from an author’s real first and last names (Il’f-Il’ia Fainzil’berg), and sometimes they are in cipher form: 200–1 (S. A.-Sergei Aksakov; M/f [Minaev]). Distinctive pen names are composed of an author’s initials or of his first name alone (Abai). An author may use an allonym; that is, he may assume the last name of another person (Pablo Neruda from Jan Neruda).

An author may choose a pen name according to his own discretion and may publish under different pen names. In the USSR, pen names are usually specified in an author’s agreement. As a rule, a pen name may not be disclosed without the author’s permission during the period covered by the copyright, except when the use of the pen name conflicts with society’s interests (for example, when it is used to falsify authorship).

In modern Soviet works, party pseudonyms are often termed party nicknames.


Masanov, I. F. Slovar’ psevdonimov russkikh pisatelei, uchenykh i obshchestvennykh deiatelei, vols. Moscow, 1956–60.
Masanov, Iu. V mire psevdonimov, anonimov i literaturnykh poddelok. Moscow, 1963.
Dmitriev, V. Skryvshie svoe imia. Moscow, 1970.
Dmitriev, V. “O psevdonimakh i ikh klassifikatsii.” Filologicheskie nauki, 1915, no. 5.


References in periodicals archive ?
Jake Sobo, a Los Angeles-area academic and writer who uses a penname, cataloged his journey to getting a prescription for and taking PrEP in a 2012-2013 Frontiers magazine series, "My Life on PrEP." He has heard the gamut of responses when it comes to PrEP, from the supportive to the outright hostile.
In 2011 Spider Truman, the penname of a former employee of the Italian Chamber of Members of Parliament, published, first on Facebook and later on a blog, what he initially called The Secrets of the Montecitorio Caste, (3) which contained information about the expenses of Italian MPs who misused public funds.
show them theres a person behind the penname and not just some lady sitting on a perch-'I like my perch (!/AngstGoddess003/ status/44549910078554112)
He wrote under the penname of Mark Daniel and his own entry on still claims his interests include offal and crustaceans, high life and low life, amusing orgies, flirtation, and libertarianism.
In addition, a writer who posts articles for under the penname Erdem Yavuz was found to be sending e-mails from a shopping center.
The Christian mom, penname Anonymous, who wrote about her son, calls it SSA--same-sex attraction, the letters a label, an illness too long or shocking to name.
Beth, who writes under the penname Beth Reekles, said: "The nomination is brilliant news."
Jin Ping Mei (The Plum in the Golden Vase, hereafter JPM) is a sixteenth-century vernacular novel that explores the everyday life of a parvenu merchant Ximen Qing surrounded by women, servants, and sycophants in a provincial town of northern China,1 The novel was published in the later period of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) under the penname of Lanling xiaoxiaosheng (The Scoffing Scholar from Lanling).
Un roman de aventuri spirituale in India", is signed by Sega (penname of Octavian Segarceanu) and was published in 2012 at Humanitas, in the collection "Memoirs.
About two months back, the lower house had decided nationality should not be mentioned in the cards, which should instead carry the bearer's penname and religion.
Gibson-Graham is the penname of two economic geographers: the late Julie Graham (University of Massachusetts-Amherst) and Katherine Gibson (University of Western Sydney), who together wrote a previous book titled A Postcapitalist Politics.
(5) However, it was at a critical point in his real life that Rushdie was obliged to invent not a penname, but a name to designate himself.