Why do authors use pen names?

THE reasons why writers use pen names is the theme for a new exhibition at the National Library of Scotland.

“Pen Names” opens at the library on George IV Bridge in Edinburgh on Friday.

The exhibition draws on material from the library’s archive to cover a range of writers using pseudonyms from the 1800s to the present day, including George Eliot, Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Josephine Tey, Frank Quitely, Dreda Say Mitchell, Ambrose Parry, and Lewis Carroll.

National librarian Amina Shah said: “This is an opportunity for us to display star items from our prestigious literary archives – manuscripts, letters, and notes in the hand of some of the most renowned authors who write under a pen name.

“We tell the story of why some people choose to do so – and explore the motivations of past and present authors.

“The exhibition also showcases the breadth of our printed collections ranging from rare first editions from previous centuries to some of the latest novels published in the UK.

“We hope it’ll be a great experience for all visitors, and we welcome everyone.”

Co-curator Kirsty McHugh added: “The stories of why authors use pen names and how and why they chose them are often as compelling as their books.

“Writing something and managing to get it published is something most writers want to shout about from the rooftops.

“They want their name on the cover, ideally as prominently as possible.

“So when they do choose to use a pen name, it’s often for very specific professional or personal reasons.”

Read more literary news on Scottish Field‘s books pages.

Plus, don’t miss our comprehensive book reviews section in the July issue of Scottish Field magazine.