Famous authors who used pseudonyms to write other books

Many authors decided to use a pen name or nom de plume instead of their real ones but others have had to write under pseudonyms to find out if they would have the same success, or to enter a different genre.

Paul French is Isaac Asimov

Science fiction legend Isaac Asimov was once asked to write a juvenile science-fiction novel to serve as the basis for a television series. Fearing a typically “uniformly awful” adaptation, he decided to publish the first book starring hero Lucky Starr under the pseudonym Paul French.

Plans for the TV series finally fell through but Asimov continued to write the books, eventually producing six novels in the series and, no longer fearing being associated with an embarrassing TV version, he abandoned the pretense that he was not the author and even brought the Three Laws of Robotics to those novels.


J. D. Robb is Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts was already a famous romance writer when she decided to become J. D. Robb (a name that doesn’t tell you from the start if you’re going to read a book by a man or a woman).

She had published around 200 romance books when she started publishing detective novels as Robb.


Robert Galbraith is J. K. Rowling

A famous case: J. K. Rowling became famous (and a millionaire!) thanks to Harry Potter, but she wanted to see if she would have the same success under an unknown (male) name.

The mystery didn’t last long and most Potter fans started buying “his” debut novel, knowing it had been written by Rowling.


Mary Westmacott is Agatha Christie

Probably the most famous female writer in the world, Agatha Christie is always linked to detective and mystery novels, particularly starring beloved characters Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple.

However, Christie also wanted to write romance novels! And she did with fair success, under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott.


Richard Bachman is Stephen King

One of the most famous cases (if not the most famous) of pseudonyms is that of Stephen King’s alter-ego Richard Bachman.

How was Bachman born? King writes a lot. He always has. But his publisher at the time didn’t think that it was fair to be selling more than a book a year as “Stephen King” so the author started releasing some of his novels under this pen name.

A librarian saw the similarities between the two authors’ writing and the mystery had to be unveiled a few years later. King would still release another Bachman “lost” novel, Blaze, decades later.


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