When referring to an author, such as in a book report or essay, should I use their pseudonym or their real name when I am speaking about them or their works? Thanks!

closed as primarily opinion-based by tchrist, Chenmunka, Hellion, Dan Bron, FumbleFingers Oct 7 '15 at 17:51

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    To me, it seems that this is more of a question about cultural and literary conventions for using names, than about English per se. If you have a book report or essay to write, you should have a teacher or editor who can give you advice about matters like these. – sumelic Oct 7 '15 at 0:25
  • 6
    Nobody refers to Mark Twain as Sam Clemens, or George Orwell as Eric Blair, or O. Henry as whatever the hell his real name was. Same for Saki, George Eliot, George Sand, etc., and so on, ad infinitum. – Robusto Oct 7 '15 at 1:06
  • 3
    Use their pseudonym. That's how the book is listed at the library and that's what the author wanted when he or she wrote the book. – michael_timofeev Oct 7 '15 at 1:10
  • 1
    @michael_timofeev - It depends entirely what the purpose of the essay is. It may be historical, it may be an expose. The name may be irrelevant, or highly important. Without any context why should we know any better than the person asking the question? I don't mind helping people but I object to doing their thinking for them. – chasly from UK Oct 7 '15 at 1:14
  • 1
    @michael_timofeev - That's why I quoted Shakespeare. I don't give a damn about whether names are real 90% of the time. However it can be important - for example when a woman wrote under a man's name at a time when female authors were not taken seriously. My sole reason for commenting was that it's a pointless question. – chasly from UK Oct 7 '15 at 1:59

Using the pseudonym is a better choice, out of respect to the author, and other names can be dealt with separately.

e.g. You don't refer to Lewis Carroll as Charles Lutwidge Dodgson when talking about Alice in Wonderland, wouldn't you?

Neither would you refer to Lemony Snicket as Daniel Handler when referring to A Series of Unfortunate Events, etc.

But if they wrote different work under different names, then you would bring up the other names if it is worthy to mention so.

ex. The Cuckoo's Calling was written by J. K. Rowling, under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith.

Or in general, "X wrote (some work written under another name) under the pseudonym/alias/whatever of Y."

  • 1
    Perhaps change "always" to something less absolute. I agree with your answer, btw. – michael_timofeev Oct 7 '15 at 2:43

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.