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British Expat

Five authors’ pen names – Quick Quiz answers

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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”.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?

1 Comment

Mike KingdomHockings 01-07-2012, 15:14

I have a block about the literature I was told about in school. I didn’t recognise George Eliot’s real name, although I have seen it before.

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