Is there any consistent rule or at least an explanation why in some names the first name(s) are traditionally nearly always abbreviated and in some are not?

Why, for example, T.S. Eliot but Thomas Wiseman,

or H.G. Wells and not Herbert Wells;

Charles Dickens and not C.G. Dickens or something?

Obviously, both forms must be correct, but in practice only one or another appears for a particular name in writing. And it mustn't be the first name that affects it, as the first example demonstrates... (And let's stick to real names, as opposed to pen names, which can be anything).

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    Welcome to EL&U. This isn't really a question about English, but about naming conventions, which depend on culture rather than language. Fundamentally, what someone prefers to be known as is up to them; they may have an official name on their government documents but use different variations or nicknames among different circles of friends and associates, plus noms de plume and various aliases. Herbert George Wells is HG Wells because he was published as HG Wells, in the same way Samuel Langhorne Clemens is Mark Twain because he was published as Mark Twain. There's no "rule" about it at all. – choster Apr 11 '18 at 5:39
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    @choster, I guess it's hard to make a strong distinction between culture and the language in this case. To me (not a native speaker), it's peculiar to the English language. It happens all English-speaking countries I know. Other, presumably more normative/prescriptive languages simply don't allow such freedom, they dictate how a name must be written. (And I specifically excluded pen names). – Zeus Apr 11 '18 at 6:41
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    It is hardly peculiar to English. For example, Johann Sebastian Bach is remembered as Johann Sebastian Bach or J.S. Bach, yet Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Theophilus Mozart is remembered as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, which is neither here nor there (if anything, it should be Gottlieb, not Amadeus). No "rule" applies there either. In the end, you can use whatever name you like with whichever groups you like, and others will call you by whatever name they like. In another universe, HG Wells is known as H. George Wells and that is perfectly fine. – choster Apr 11 '18 at 7:13
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    Some authors have simply chosen to be known by their initials. For instance, I believe J.K. Rowling did so because she thought that boys might be less willing to read the first Harry Potter book if they knew it was written by a woman. – Kate Bunting Apr 11 '18 at 8:10
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    @choster, this is a different thing. One can encounter both 'Johann Sebastian Bach' and 'J.S. Bach' (and most commonly simply Bach), and all will be considered usual and normal. Same with Mozart ('Amadeus' is effectively a 'pen name', but the point is that 'W.A. Mozart' doesn't look unusual; the actual form depends entirely on the one who writes it in each case). Yet in English only one form always prevails, and the name bearer somehow (it seems) has a say on how his/her name should be spelled out. Even in references, where consistency is paramount. In some languages, this is unthinkable. – Zeus Apr 12 '18 at 0:51

There is no rule of any kind.

How names are used is down to the individual's choice and nothing else.

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    Thanks for the reply. But how does it work? How names are used is always down to the user. What makes 'English users' always respect 'the individual's choice', and how does this choice manifest itself? This is not obvious to me. In some languages/cultures, the fact that the book cover says 'T.S. Eliot' means almost nothing: the name will be used as as the user (and in some cases, standards) require. If one looks at the wiki page for T.S.Eliot and scans through languages, one can see that in many cases the name is spelled in full. – Zeus Apr 27 '18 at 0:34
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    But there is that rule: the user (just to avoid the word 'writer' in this context) is, apparently, supposed to respect the author's way of writing (and even abbreviating!) his name. This is not universally true in other languages/cultures. It is this part, the actual usage, that I was asking about, not the fact that the author may write as s/he wishes (which, by the way, is also not universally true, at least for real names). – Zeus May 14 '18 at 7:45
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    As I tried to explain in the other comments, this usage rule seems to me peculiar to the English language (or English-speaking cultures) rather than anything else. So I asked about it here ("Language and usage", isn't it?) – Zeus May 15 '18 at 1:13
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    Well, that's simply the thing I was asking about! The correct answer to my question, as it happens, is that "the usage follows the author's preference", and not that "there are no rules" (native speakers often don't see rules even when they 'use' them). And contrary to some other commenters, I assert that this is a distinct English usage feature; not unique but by no means universal. In other words, worth asking about. – Zeus May 16 '18 at 7:11
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    Apparently all the downvoters consider it as not worthy. Nevertheless, I disagree: as a rule, in English the usage follows the author's preference, this is simply a fact. I don't think I've ever seen anyone writing 'Thomas Eliot' or 'C. Dickens' in normal text. On the contrary, in my native language (Russian), there is simply no such pattern. Say, Leo Tolstoy is equally commonly written as 'Leo Tolstoy' (in Russian spelling, of course), 'L.N.Tolstoy' or, of course, just 'Tolstoy' (like Bach, Leo is the 'default' Tolstoy). Abbreviating the names is considered somewhat more 'serious', perhaps. – Zeus May 17 '18 at 0:31

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