Authors have routinely hidden their identities, but you may be reading the works of famous writers without knowing it. I’ve compiled a partial list of well-known authors who use different names. There are literally hundreds more who could be on this list.
- J.K. Rowling (Robert Galbraith) – Harry Potter series, The Cuckoo’s Calling
- Joe Klein (Anonymous) – political commentator for TIME, Primary Colors
- Nora Roberts (J.D. Robb) – romance novels, futuristic science fiction books (the “In Death” series beginning in 1995)
- Ruth Rendell (Barbara Vine) – books with excitement and sensation, books about people and the evolution of morality
- Anne Rice (Anne Rampling, A.N. Roquelaure) The Vampire Chronicles, Exit to Eden, and Belinda, Sleeping Beauty Trilogy (adult themes)
- Jayne Anne Krentz (Amanda Quick, Jayne Castle) – romantic suspense, historical fiction, futuristic science fiction
- Stephen King (Richard Bachman) – horror novels
- Evan Hunter (Ed McBain, Hunt Collins, Curt Cannon, Richard Marsten, D.A. Addams, Ted Taine) – crime and science fiction
- Louisa May Alcott (A.M. Barnard) – Little Women, sensational narratives
- Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë (Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell) – poetry anthologies, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights
- Eleanor Hibbert (Jean Plaidy, Victoria Holt, Philippa Carr, Eleanor Burford, Elbur Ford, Kathleen Kellow, Anna Percival, Ellalice Tateli) historical fiction, romantic fiction, gothic romances, contemporary novels
Most of the authors listed used different names for different genres (Rowling, Klein, Roberts, Rendell, Rice, Krentz, Hunter, and Hibbert). Some women published under male or androgynous names because ladies were not supposed to write books during their time periods (Alcott and the Brontë sisters), but Anne Rice chose to use pseudonymns to disguise the fact that she was writing erotica and BDSM. Stephen King used a pen name to publish multiple books in a year during a time when publishers wanted only one book per year from an author. They thought the public would not buy more than that.The most prolific author on the list is Eleanor Hibbert. I grew up reading my mother’s Victoria Holt novels during my teen years, and my daughters have read all of them that they can find. Her books feature romance without erotica – the innocent governess marries the widowed master of the house. She wrote thirty-two books in that genre alone (gothic romance) and had sold over one hundred million books by the time of her death.
Today, many writers disguise their identities because of the ease with which they can be found through the internet.
So does the author’s name sell the book, or does good writing matter? Do you want to feel a personal connection with the writer?