Many authors and writers tend to consider the decision to use a pen name to be a personal choice. I too have been taking this under some consideration. Yes, I have published works under my legal name, and something similar to my legal name for some of my works depending on the work that I’m publishing.
Furthermore, some very well known authors such as Nora Roberts and J. K. Rowling have used pen names for various reasons for their work. J.K. Rowling’s reason for using a pen name was so that she could be judge on your writing merits so that readers would not buy her works of fiction just because of the success that came from the Harry Potter Series. Nora Robert’s using of a pen name was due to her writing in a different genre.
There are many reason that writers chose to use a pen name rather than their preferred name. The reason that I bring this up is that there have been a number of theories as of late that William Shakespeare was a pen name, not an actual person. You might be shocked by this news, but let me tell you this has been an interesting topic in the literary world.
Last night, while I was working I was listening to Coast to Coast AM Radio and they had an author on there by the name of Katherine Chiljan, who wrote a book called Shakespeare Suppressed: The Uncensored Truth about Shakespeare and his words. During the discussion of the book, the subject of whether or not Shakespeare was a real person or a pen name for a person of high importance was addressed. Chijan stated that if Shakespeare was the pen name of a Lord, and it was found out who the real Shakespeare was it would have been somewhat of a scandal to say the very least. But this is also not the first time that the theory has been addressed either, for there was a movie titled, Anonymous that addressed this theory as well.
Granted, today we, as writers, have aspirations to be published and to be read by readers. However, there was a time when that depending on your place in society would have been a taboo. Granted, we know that throughout history that women writer’s were turned away since readers at the time would only read works by a male writer. So there were many women writers who took on the pen name that reflected a man’s name so that way they would have a chance to be published even it was in a literary magazine at the time.
Boy have times changed, and know writers of both genders are being read and that alone is something to be amazed at. I’m not taking away that we still have social injustices at work in the word that still have to be defeated. But if writing can pave the way for change, why can’t other things as well.
I will say that for an author to use a pen name is a personal choice and one that should not be made lightly, unless you don’t want others to know that it is you writing and publishing a work of fiction or even nonfiction for that matter. Furthermore, using a pen name should be something that reflects you as an author, your genre and how you want to be known.