We gave you five famous authors’ real names and asked you to supply the pen names by which they’re better known. Here are the answers:
- Eric Arthur Blair
George Orwell (1903-50). He took his name (which he described as “a good round English name”) from the River Orwell in Suffolk, where he and his parents lived in the early 1930s.
- Mary Anne Evans
George Eliot (1819-80). She chose a male pen name to ensure her works would be taken seriously – women authors of her day typically wrote light romantic fiction – and possibly also to separate her public life from her (somewhat scandalous) private life, in which she lived with a married man for 20 years.
- Hector Hugh Munro
Saki (1870-1916). The name may be a reference to the cup-bearer in the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, or possibly to the “small, long-tailed primate from the Western Hemisphere” that features in his story “The Remoulding of Groby Lington”.
- Richard Patrick Russ
Patrick O’Brian (1914-2000). Not strictly speaking a pen name, since the intensely private Russ changed his name by deed poll in 1945. His most famous works are his “Aubrey-Maturin” series of Napoleonic War naval adventures.
- James Alfred Wight
James Herriot (1916-95). Professional etiquette at the time barred veterinary surgeons from advertising their services, so Wight took a pen name, settling on that of Scottish goalkeeper Jim Herriot after seeing him play exceptionally well for Birmingham City against Manchester United in a televised match. (The 1968-69 FA Cup Fifth Round; Blues drew 2-2 at home but lost the replay 2-6. Poor Jim.)
How did you get on? Why not let us know?