Share Who Wrote That?: 12 Books Written Under Pen Names

Who Wrote That?: 12 Books Written Under Pen Names

Kerry Fiallo is a New York native and copywriter at Simon & Schuster. A lifelong voracious reader, she has a particular fondness for ghost stories, history, and anything to do with Mary Shelley, Ada Lovelace, and the Brontë sisters. The only thing she may love more than books is black tea, but they do often go well together. You can find her as she navigates through literature and history on Twitter @ReadingInNYC and on Tumblr.

The use of pen names is as old as literature itself. Every genre has its share; our childhoods are littered with them (Dr. Seuss and Carolyn Keene ring a bell?). But few of us realize that some of our most beloved books of adulthood are written under pen names. Below are several of our favorite examples of pseudonymous (yes, that is a real word) works, from a classic of espionage fiction to contemporary science fiction and a certain bestselling literary series.


The Cuckoo's Calling
by Robert Galbraith

After Harry Potter, many wondered if J. K. Rowling would write again. Few expected her to adopt a pseudonym and successfully turn toward crime fiction. THE CUCKOO’S CALLING is the story of a struggling private investigator as he handles the case of a lifetime: the mysterious death of a supermodel.

The Cuckoo's Calling
Robert Galbraith

After Harry Potter, many wondered if J. K. Rowling would write again. Few expected her to adopt a pseudonym and successfully turn toward crime fiction. THE CUCKOO’S CALLING is the story of a struggling private investigator as he handles the case of a lifetime: the mysterious death of a supermodel.

MENTIONED IN:

Who Wrote That?: 12 Books Written Under Pen Names

By Kerry Fiallo | October 6, 2016

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My Brilliant Friend
by Elena Ferrante
Following years of interest in one of the most compelling modern literary mysteries, the true identity of Elena Ferrante was allegedly uncovered by The New York Review of Books earlier this month. MY BRILLIANT FRIEND is the first of four bestselling Neapolitan Novels by Ferrante. This coming-of-age tale of two precocious girls in 1950s Italy illuminates their strong bond in the midst of the rapid changes Italy faced throughout the twentieth century.
My Brilliant Friend
Elena Ferrante

Stuart’s Fictional Dinner Party Guests: Elena and Lila

I’d like to host a dinner with an eye on close friendships. Friendships are fascinating because they are the one relationship in life that you aren’t required to be in because of birth or bound to by law. Those in attendance would ideally have a multiple-decade friendship like Elena and Lila of MY BRILLIANT FRIEND. And even though he’s not fictional, I’d love for my best friend to be sitting at the table, too.

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The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
by John le Carré

John le Carré is an icon of spy fiction. David John Moore Cornwell adopted his name to pen his espionage classics and the rest is history. This taut thriller depicts a British agent struggling to keep double agents alive and forced to go deep undercover in Cold War Berlin, where nothing and no one is what they seem.

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
John le Carré

John le Carré is an icon of spy fiction. David John Moore Cornwell adopted his name to pen his espionage classics and the rest is history. This taut thriller depicts a British agent struggling to keep double agents alive and forced to go deep undercover in Cold War Berlin, where nothing and no one is what they seem.

MENTIONED IN:

Who Wrote That?: 12 Books Written Under Pen Names

By Kerry Fiallo | October 6, 2016

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Addicted
by Zane

ADDICTED, the most popular novel of Zane—the pseudonymous queen of erotic romance—tells the provocative story of a successful married businesswoman as she struggles between her sexual desires and her personal life.

Addicted
Zane

ADDICTED, the most popular novel of Zane—the pseudonymous queen of erotic romance—tells the provocative story of a successful married businesswoman as she struggles between her sexual desires and her personal life.

MENTIONED IN:

Who Wrote That?: 12 Books Written Under Pen Names

By Kerry Fiallo | October 6, 2016

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The Running Man
by Stephen King

When writing as Richard Bachman, Stephen King created one of his most nerve-racking tales: a dystopian novel in which a desperate man agrees to appear on a deadly game show called “The Running Man.”

The Running Man
Stephen King

When writing as Richard Bachman, Stephen King created one of his most nerve-racking tales: a dystopian novel in which a desperate man agrees to appear on a deadly game show called “The Running Man.”

MENTIONED IN:

Who Wrote That?: 12 Books Written Under Pen Names

By Kerry Fiallo | October 6, 2016

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Middlemarch
by George Eliot

When she adopted the name George Eliot in 1871, Mary Ann Evans ensured her work would be taken seriously. Now a classic of British literature, MIDDLEMARCH depicts the drama of everyday life in rural Britain as it dealt with the industrial and political changes of the nineteenth century.

Middlemarch
George Eliot

When she adopted the name George Eliot in 1871, Mary Ann Evans ensured her work would be taken seriously. Now a classic of British literature, MIDDLEMARCH depicts the drama of everyday life in rural Britain as it dealt with the industrial and political changes of the nineteenth century.

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Who Wrote That?: 12 Books Written Under Pen Names

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Dog On It
by Spencer Quinn
Spencer Quinn, aka Peter Abrahams, is the author of the beloved and hilarious Chet and Bernie mystery series. DOG ON IT stars a private investigator and his ultra-intelligent, bacon-loving dog partner, Chet, who narrates these clever stories from his easily distracted canine point of view.
Dog On It
Spencer Quinn

When a panicked mother approaches Bernie Little’s struggling detective agency with a missing person case, he can’t believe his luck. Narrated by Bernie’s canine sidekick Chet, this is a fast-paced tale of adventure, suspense, and the lovable loyalty of man’s best friend.

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Out of Africa
by Isak Dinesen
First published in 1937, this incandescent and vibrant memoir of the years Karen von Blixen-Finecke lived in Kenya was first published under her male pen name. Lyrical, elegiac, and wistful, OUT OF AFRICA depicts Blixen-Finecke’s love and respect for her adopted country, making you fall in love with it, too.
Out of Africa
Isak Dinesen

Isak Dinesen’s narrative of her years spent on a 4,000 acre coffee plantation in the hills near Nairobi, from 1914 to 1931, is that of a master storyteller. Written after she had lost her beloved farm and returned to her native Denmark, her account looks back with an unsentimental intelligence to portray a way of life that is now gone forever.

MENTIONED IN:

Who Wrote That?: 12 Books Written Under Pen Names

By Kerry Fiallo | October 6, 2016

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Assassin's Apprentice
by Robin Hobb

With acclaimed authors such as George R. R. Martin counting themselves as fans, Robin Hobb, aka Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden, is a treasured fantasy writer. ASSASSIN’S APPRENTICE focuses on an illegitimate royal son and his secret training in magic and assassination.

Assassin's Apprentice
Robin Hobb

With acclaimed authors such as George R. R. Martin counting themselves as fans, Robin Hobb, aka Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden, is a treasured fantasy writer. ASSASSIN’S APPRENTICE focuses on an illegitimate royal son and his secret training in magic and assassination.

MENTIONED IN:

Who Wrote That?: 12 Books Written Under Pen Names

By Kerry Fiallo | October 6, 2016

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Devoted in Death
by J. D. Robb

Nora Roberts took on the name J. D. Robb as she began writing romantic suspense. Her first foray follows a NYPD lieutenant as she hunts down a dangerous killer and tries to ignore the seductive billionaire who is also a suspect in her investigation.

Devoted in Death
J. D. Robb

Nora Roberts took on the name J. D. Robb as she began writing romantic suspense. Her first foray follows a NYPD lieutenant as she hunts down a dangerous killer and tries to ignore the seductive billionaire who is also a suspect in her investigation.

MENTIONED IN:

Who Wrote That?: 12 Books Written Under Pen Names

By Kerry Fiallo | October 6, 2016

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The Daughter of Time
by Josephine Tey
Elizabeth MacKintosh became famous for her historical mysteries under the name Josephine Tey. In THE DAUGHTER OF TIME, an injured Scotland Yard inspector sets out to solve the 500-year-old mystery of the alleged murders of King Richard III’s royal nephews.
The Daughter of Time
Josephine Tey

Re-creating one of history’s most famous—and vicious—crimes, THE DAUGHTER OF TIME investigates who really killed Richard III’s nephews, the Princes in the Tower, and reveals the usurpers lying in wait behind the British throne.

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NOS4A2
by Joe Hill
Born Joseph Hillstrom King, Joe Hill became a modern master of horror with this supernatural tale of a child abductor who transports his captives to an otherworldly reality. Having never forgotten the young girl who managed to escape years ago, he sets his sight on a new victim: her son.
NOS4A2
Joe Hill

NOS4A2 is a spine-tingling novel of supernatural suspense from master of horror Joe Hill, the New York Times bestselling author of Heart-Shaped Box and Horns.

MENTIONED IN:

Who Wrote That?: 12 Books Written Under Pen Names

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