Apocalypstick's ApocaLIST 9 Writers And Musicians Who Used (Sometimes Weird) Pen Names Almie Rose

JK Rowling blew the socks off everyone when it was revealed that she wrote a crime novel under the name Robert Galbraith.

j.k. rowling pen name

And unlike Shaggy she admitted that it was, indeed, her.

Photo: Getty Images Europe via Zimbio

There are many other authors and musicians out there who have also used pen names and pseudonyms. Some of them you probably know or have heard about, like the Brontës sisters writing under masculine names for fear that no one would read books by women. Sadly, that fear remains as Rowling not only wrote a book under the male name Robert, but also went as “JK” Rowling instead of her using her full name, Joanne, as her publishers believed a female name would hurt sales.

laughing man

“HAHA, FOOLED YOU! It was a woman THE ENTIRE TIME! Too late, can’t unread! Man you should see your face!”

Photo: Aaron Amat via Shutterstock.

Here are 9 more writers and musicians who used (sometimes weird) pen names. And by pen names, I don’t mean stage names, like how Richard Starkey became Ringo Starr, nor do I mean slight changes to legal names like Francis Scott Fitzgerald to F. Scott Fitzgerald. If Ringo Starr used a fake name on top of his fake name, that would count. You’ll see some of that on this list.

great gatsby book cover

Wait a minute, the F stands for Francis? A Mr. Fred Scott Fitzgerald is going to be so confused by my fan letter.

Photo: Wikipedia.

1. Rosamond Smith, Lauren Kelly AKA Joyce Carol Oates.

joyce carol oates

Photo: NPR

Joyce Carol Oates and Stephen King may be the two most prolific novelists in history (this is based on me really wanting to believe it). And don’t worry, we’re getting to Stephen King next. Under her “normal name” she’s written 8 novellas, 42 novels, 3 children’s books, 6 young adult fiction books, 10 poetry books, 9 collections of plays, 16 essays/memoirs, and 27 collections of short stories. As Rosamond Smith she’s written 8 novels and as Lauren Kelly she’s written 3.

It took me two hours just to write and put together this post.

2. Richard Bachman, John Swithen AKA Stephen King.

stephen king author

Photo: Stephenking.com

Stephen King is the best, the end. He writes more than just horror (The Shining, Pet Semetary, It). Check out 11/22/63, an incredible story of a man who travels back in time to try to stop JFK’s assassination. (Joyce Carol Oates also wrote a fictionalized account of a Kennedy. Black Water is a novella about Ted Kennedy’s deadly car accident at Chappaquiddick. Needless to say, it’s a real downer.) King writes novels the way most people tweet — 1 to 3 times a day.

By the time you're done reading this, King will have written 4 columns for Entertainment Weekly, one tv mini series, and 7 novels, all while hang gliding.

By the time you’re done reading this, King will have written 4 columns for Entertainment Weekly, one TV mini series, 25 short stories and 7 novels, all while hang gliding.

Photo: Featureflash via Shutterstock

So really his pen names were more out of necessity, or rather that was the publisher’s thinking, because who would want to buy 5 books a year by the same author? I would. Because he’s STEPHEN KING! At some point King decided, yeah, screw them, and decided to kill off the pen name Richard Bachman. No, really, he told everyone that Richard Bachman died of cancer.

tim curry it movie poster

Sure, that might be a little harsh, but this is coming from the man who is responsible for the Tim Curry nightmare clown.

 Photo: Wikipedia

3. Dr. Theophrastus Seuss, Theo LeSieg, Rosetta Stone, Dr. Seuss AKA Theodore Geisel

dr. seuss

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Dr. Seuss is a name I think we’re all familiar with. Known for writing some of the most popular children’s books of all time, Mr. Theodore Geisel actually never had any of his own. His line was, “You have ‘em; I’ll entertain ‘em.” Some other things that may surprise you about “Dr. Seuss”: he won 2 Oscars, had an affair and his first wife committed suicide.

mike meyers cat in the hat poster

The good news is that he had nothing to do with this.

Photo: Wikipedia

4. Boz AKA Charles Dickens

charles dickens boz

Photo: Wikipedia

This one is in here just for… giggles. (YEEEAAAAHHH!!!) But really, can you imagine seeing everywhere,

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. – Boz

Charles Dickens took Boz, a family nickname, and used it for his first collection of drawings, Sketches By Boz.

hip hop group

Which is also the name of the world’s greatest hip hop group we’re still waiting for.

Photo: Kiselev Andrey Valerevich via Shutterstock

Apparently Dickens came up with Boz as a nickname for his younger brother, Augustus. Dickens would call Augustus “Moses”. Moses became Boses which became Boz. And Moses became Boses because legend has it that someone had a cold and thus when said out loud, the “M” sounded like a “B.”

singing in the rain moses supposes

And Moses supposes his toeses are roses but that’s not important right now.

Photo: Last.fm.

5. George Eliot AKA Mary Anne Evans

george eliot

Photo: Wikipedia

George Eliot was not a man. There, I said it. George Eliot was the pen name of one Mary Anne (sometimes seen as Mary Ann sometimes Marian) Evans. She was, however, in an open marriage with a man named George and she used the pen name George to be taken seriously as a writer. For in 1856, she wrote her manifesto, “Silly Novels by Lady Novelists”, for The Review. Yeah, she was waaaaay ahead of her time.

But not as ahead as Stephen King, who managed to write 12 books that year, 91 years before he was born.

She dedicated her novel Mill On The Floss to “my beloved husband, George Henry Lewes” which may have confused a lot of people.

6. Bernard Webb, Clint Harrigan AKA Paul McCartney

paul mccartney young

Photo: Last.fm

Paul McCartney is known as one of the greatest songwriters of all time, unless Kanye West asks you who the greatest songwriter of all time is, in which you say, “You are, Kanye. It’s always been you” and he’ll give you a free burrito.

Paul McCartney’s written songs for groups you may not even realize. Some big ’60s hits were his, like Peter and Gordon’s “World Without Love” and “I Wanna Be Your Man”, which was originally recorded by The Rolling Stones.

McCartney used the name Bernard Webb to write another song for Peter and Gordon, but this time to see if the song would still be a hit without the Lennon/McCartney name. (Even though Lennon didn’t write these songs, he was still credited. You could say he was the Ben Affleck to McCartney’s Matt Damon.)

paul punching john

Fine, I’ll add your name at the bottom, but this is the LAST ONE.

Photo: Fanpop

The song by “Bernard Webb” was “Woman” and it did okay. It charted #14 in the US. In the 1970′s when Paul McCartney was in Wings, he used the name Clint Harrigan in the liner notes for their song “Live and Let Die.” (This was way back when he was young and his heart was an open book.)

7. Ann Orson, Lord Choc Ice, William A. Bong, Reggae Dwight, Frank N. Stein AKA Elton John

Mazzzur elton john performing

Photo credit: Mazzzur via Shutterstock

Elton John, born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, really loved to screw with people by using a bunch of fake names. The are more more than the ones I’ve listed and there’s probably even more out there we don’t even know of.

elton john sunglasses

When asked why he used so many names, Elton said, “I never knew me a better time and I guess I never will.”

Photo: DFree via Shutterstock

Some of these make sense, as in “Reggae Dwight” is credited on the reggae inspired song “Jamaica Jerk-Off” from the “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album. But “Ann Orson” was given credit for writing “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”, Elton’s duet with Kiki Dee and I don’t see the connection there. I’m probably not looking hard enough. Nicolas Cage is much better at spotting these kinds of clues, but only when The Declaration of Independence is involved.

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  1. Dude!! Isak Dinesen!! who actually was Karen Blixen, who actually was Meryl Streep on Out of Africa!!! Mmmm… I mean, Meryl Streep was Karen in Out of Africa… o.O… or something like that. ;)

  2. What a amazing discovery! I enjoyd reading this information. I must say: I admire J.K Rowlings reason WHY she used a pen name. It’s also really impressive that you could find all of that. It makes my curious: does Dan Brow, John Grisham or Harlan Coben used pen names too? It would be fun if they did!

  3. hahahahah laughed so hard with this post! I’ll go read me some stephen king book now lol

  4. This post was gloriously informative and entertaining…thanks for a great read!!

  5. ‘Stephen King wrote 19 of them while waiting in line at Starbucks.’ If that turned out to be true, I would not be at all surprised; that man is a writing MACHINE.

  6. I love how much you love Stephen King. I’m a die hard King fan and am definitely one of those people that would want to buy 5 (or more) of his books in a year. Also, I though Richard Bachman was a real person for awhile and then my boyfriend told me he was fake and I was sad.

  7. waah, did you have to post a pic of that horrible clown? it almost gave me a heart attack (*childhood trauma*)!