Pseudonyms

Great writers under covers.


Nom de Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms

By Carmela Ciuraru

Ciuraru takes readers on a comprehensive and engaging journey through the minds and careers of more than a dozen famous authors–including George Sand, Mark Twain, and George Orwell–who wrote under assumed names. Along the way, we discover not only their reasons, both practical and deeply personal, for obscuring their true identities, but also the peculiar effects that using a pseudonym had on their lives.


The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

By B. Traven

About the only thing anyone knows for certain about the mysterious author who called himself B. Traven is that he lived for many years in Mexico, which is where The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is set. In this rollicking tale of adventure, three Americans pan for gold and battle bandits in remote regions. John Huston eventually made the book into a 1948 Oscar-winning film starring Humphrey Bogart.


Her Smoke Rose up Forever

By James Tiptree, Jr.

Science fiction author Alice Sheldon wrote under the name James Tiptree, Jr. until her death in 1987 at the age of 71. Adopting a masculine pseudonym allowed Sheldon access to a male-dominated genre, echoing the experiences of literary pioneers such as the Brontë sisters and Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot). This collection of the Chicago native’s work showcases her unpredictable imagination and electric prose style, in such works as the milestone “Love Is the Plan, the Plan Is Death.”


Down and out in Paris and London

By George Orwell

Orwell, the nom de plume of Eric Blair, penned a classic of both reportage and recollection in this  semi-autobiographical account of  living hand to mouth in the streets of two great cities in the 1930s. While Orwell handles his situation with humor and aplomb, he also provides a fascinating window onto the world of the disenfranchised, unflinchingly and unsentimentally mapping the toll that poverty takes on human dignity.


The Running Man

By Richard Bachman

It was once believed that authors shouldn’t publish more than one novel a year. But in the 1970s, Stephen King’s prolific output gave the bestselling novelist reason to circumvent this axiom by inventing an alter ego, under whose name additional work could appear. Richard Bachman was born (the name was derived, in part, from Richard Stark, the pseudonym under which Donald E. Westlake wrote his popular Parker capers). This work of suspense is one of Bachman’s most frightening narratives, centering around a reality television show in 2025 in which contestants put their lives on the line.