GNOME DE PLUME

Mistermuse, having come up just a tad short of becoming a world-famous author himself, thought his real self and I would write a post about pen names of other reputed writers, including a quiz about how many real names of pseudonymous authors you can identify, such as the one everyone knows: Mark Twain / Samuel Clemens.

But in the course of doing a little research, we came across the Nom de Pun of a legendary wee person of English folklore, Tom Thumb, who (though not an author) is the subject of many an author’s works, starting with The History of Tom Thumb, first published in 1621. Two-plus centuries later, showman P. T. Barnum took advantage of that famous character’s name by featuring “General Tom Thumb” (dwarf Charles Sherwood Stratton) as his star attraction …. which led us further down the sidetrack of character names of famous dwarfs, such as “Tattoo” (Herve Villechaize) of Fantasy Island fame and “Mini-Me” (Verne Troyer) in The Spy Who Shagged Me.” But enough about Mini-Me (and Tattoo and Tom Thumb), and back to the business at hand: pen names of renowned writers.

Following the famous nom de plume of each author (in caps below) is the real name of another author on the list. How many of these mismatched names can you re-match correctly?

ARTEMUS WARD / Eric Blair
GEORGE SAND / Charles Dodgson
GEORGE ELIOT / Aurore Dupin
LEWIS CARROLL / Victoria Lucas
SYLVIA PLATH / Karen Blixen

GEORGE ORWELL / Cecil Smith
ISAK DINESEN / Mary Anne Evans
ANATOLE FRANCE / Francois Marie Arouet
SIDNEY SHELDON / Daniel Foe
O. HENRY / Charles Farrar Browne

ANNE RICE / Sidney Schechtel
AYN RAND / Howard Allen Frances O’Brien
C. S. FORESTER / William Sydney Porter
VOLTAIRE/ Jacque Anatole Thibault
DANIEL DEFOE / Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum

But what about the real name of mistermuse, you ask. Are you ready for the big announcement?

www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBzJGckMYO4

Sorry for the typo — I meant “pig announcement.”

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4 comments on “GNOME DE PLUME

  1. Don Frankel says:

    We can see why people born Howard might want to change their name. Especially when they are are a girl. Of course back int he day of George Elliot and Sand women couldn’t publish. Also if you’ve been in prison, I guess you’d rather be O’Henry then your real name. But then so much of writing is an ability to assume other identities even if you use your real name.

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  2. mistermuse says:

    For those who couldn’t match the real name Don referred to (Howard Allen Francis O’Brien) with the right pen name, it’s Anne Rice (I confess I didn’t know it myself, as I’m not a Gothic fiction fan and haven’t read any of her books). It certainly makes one wonder why her parents would name their baby girl “Howard” – it sounds like they were hoping for a boy and refused to change the name they’d pre-chosen. In any case, if she lived back in the day of female authors George Eliot and George Sand, she wouldn’t have needed a pen name – Howard Allen O’Brien would’ve worked just fine.

    As for O. Henry (William Sydney Porter), Don, many readers know about his imprisonment, but there are also interesting stories about how he came upon his pen name. One has it that he called his girlfriend’s cat “Oh, Henry” because the cat would respond to no other greeting, but Porter spun a number of such tales, so who knows?

    Th-th-th-th-that’s all, folks!

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  3. Ricardo says:

    I always thought O. Henry was the way that author’s sex partners addressed him. Are we to take it that your given name is Leon Schlesinger, Sr. Muse?

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    • mistermuse says:

      Re O. Henry, a very penetrating deduction. Taking it up a logical notch, Ricard-O, God must have the spiritual equivalent of sex partners (just sayin’). It might help explain a lot of stuff that goes on in the universe (starting with the Big Bang Theory).

      As for my given name, it so happens that “Leon” is part of it, but unlike Looney Tunes producer Schlesinger, I’m still living….or should I say, animated.

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