This Infographic Unearths the Truth Behind Famous Literary Pseudonyms

A new infographic goes from Charles Dickens to JK Rowling to reveal the pseudonyms of famous authors and the reasons behind many of them.

This Infographic Unearths the Truth Behind Famous Literary Pseudonyms
[Photo: Everett Historical via Shutterstock]

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” William Shakespeare famously wrote in Romeo and Juliet. Of course, the bard’s actual identity has long been in dispute, leaving us to ask wonder whether his plays would read as well if they came from a name that hadn’t accrued centuries of inherent significance. A new infographic plays the literary name game with some of the other most famous authors of all time by revealing the true identity of several pseudonyms.

Created by U.K.-based rare book depot, Jonkers, The Author Behind The Pseudonym drops the actual names of many authors, along with the reasons behind the obfuscation. In some instances, the author used a nom de plume at the time of publication, but has since gone on to worldwide renown under their actual names, like Charles Dickens, who once wrote as the mononymous Boz. Others wrote under a pen name their whole career, like Mark Twain, with many not realizing their actual names (in his case, Samuel Clemens.) But those examples are for amateurs. The infographic digs further and unearths alternate names for Patricia Highsmith, C.S. Lewis, Lewis Carroll, and many more.

Have a look at the infographic below, and let us know in the comments about any glaring absences.

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. He has also written for The Awl, Rolling Stone, McSweeney's, and Salon.