Home Author Eight authors who write under pseudonyms, from JK Rowling to Stephen King

Eight authors who write under pseudonyms, from JK Rowling to Stephen King


While the name Stephen King immediately conjures up images of dark undercurrents in the state of Maine, mention Richard Bachman to a horror fan and they might be scratching their heads. However, both are the same person.

Likewise, Agatha Christie remains one of the world’s most famous mystery writers, but her lesser-known pen name, Mary Westmacott, has been equally critically acclaimed.

From the literary male alter ego of JK Rowling to the poet name of CS Lewis, here are eight authors who publish under pseudonyms.

JK RowlingRobert Galbraith

The Harry Potter the author is no stranger to having to tinker with her name to succeed.

Although the British writer’s real name is Joanne Rowling, her publisher informed her that young boys would not read the Potter series if they thought it was written by a woman. The initial K stands for Kathleen, her grandmother’s name.

She went on to publish adult books under the pen name Robert Galbraith, including Call of the Cuckoothe first in the Cormorant Strike detective novel series, and its final installment The inky heart.

“I chose Robert because it’s one of my favorite male names, because Robert F Kennedy is my hero, and because luckily I hadn’t used it for any of the characters in the Potter series or The occasional vacation“, Rowling said.

Stephen King/Richard Bachmann

When the “King of Horror” debuted, its publishers limited the American author to one book a year. However, King was far more prolific, convincing his publisher to let him publish more books under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, named after one of his favorite bands, Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

Under the Bachman brand, King published seven books including those from 1977 Rage and 1982 The running man.

The pseudonym was exposed by Steve Brown, a bookstore clerk in Washington, D.C. who had noticed similarities between Bachman’s and King’s works. The prolific author would later dedicate his 1989 novel half darkabout a pseudonym revolving around the writer who created them, to “The Late Richard Bachman.”

Isaac Asimov / Paul French

Famous Russian-born American science fiction author Isaac Asimov also turned to a pseudonym to try his hand at a different genre.

The talent behind I robot and The Steel Caves was asked to write a children’s science fiction novel that would later be turned into a TV show. Fearing the show won’t be good, Asimov wrote Lucky Starr under the name Paul French and went on to write six novels in the series under the pseudonym.

Agatha Christie / Mary Westmacott

As authors of murder mysteries, they are not more famous or more prolific than Christie.

The English author has written 66 mystery novels – introducing the world to Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple – and 14 collections of short stories, as well as the world’s oldest play, The Mouse Trap.

Christie also produced six novels as her alter ego Mary Westmacott, including 1934 Unfinished portrait and Load in 1956.

The most-translated individual author said he used a pseudonym to explore “his most private and treasured imaginative garden”.

Dean Koontz / Brian Coffey

American author Dean Koontz has written under no less than 10 different pseudonyms.  Photo: Getty / Bobbs-Merrill

To date, American author Dean Koontz has sold over 450 million copies of his 105 novels. Working in the suspense thriller genre, he also moved into horror, sci-fi and mystery.

One of the world’s busiest writers, in the 1970s Koontz was writing up to eight books a year, leading his publishers to fear he was overstretching the market and his brand.

He started using pseudonyms so he could publish a lot more books, with 10 publicly known names including Deanna Dwyer, Owen West, Aaron Wolfe and David Axton.

Michael Crichton/Michael Douglas

Many books by the famous author of jurassic park and The lost World have been made into blockbuster movies.

Having started writing novels while still at Harvard Medical School, the Chicago-born author worked under the pseudonym John Lange, publishing his first novel Odds on as Lange in 1966. He later claimed that he used a pseudonym because he was going to be a doctor and thought his patients would fear finding themselves in his novels.

In addition to Lange, he also wrote under the pen name Jeffrey Hudson, using his own name for the first time for 1969. The Andromeda Strain.

Crichton released the thriller Transactionwhich he co-wrote with his brother, under the name Michael Douglas.

CS Lewis / Clive Hamilton

British author of The Chronicles of Narnia also wrote under two other pseudonyms, Clive Hamilton and NW Clerk.

The Belfast-born writer published under the name Hamilton when he started writing, publishing several collections of poetry under the pseudonym, including Spirits in bondage when he was only 20 years old. However, when his career as a poet failed to find an audience, he switched to his real CS initials – for Clive Staples – to become a novelist.

He would later write a tribute to his late wife, An observed mourningunder the pen name NW Clerk, which was not revealed until his death in 1963.

Sophie Kinsella / Madeleine Wickham

Sophie Kinsella started her career using her real name Madeleine Wickham, before switching to her pen name.  Photo: Getty/Macmillan

The popular female fiction writer who penned the Confessions of a Shopaholic The series has sold over 40 million books. Early in her career, she wrote her first book, The tennis partyat the age of 24 under her real name Madeleine Wickham.

After writing six books under the name Wickham, she then began writing under the pen name Sophie Kinsella – her middle name and her mother’s maiden name.

The English author revealed she was both Wickham and Kinsella when she published her 2003 novel Can you keep a secret?

Updated: September 04, 2022, 06:21