Nom de Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms

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9780061735271: Nom de Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms

MaryAnne Evans. Charles Dodgson. Eric Blair. William Sydney Porter. Or, as they aremore commonly remembered, George Eliot, Lewis Carroll, George Orwell, and O.Henry. For these writers and many others, from Mark Twain to Stan Lee to RobertJordan, the invocation of a nom de plume has been an essential part inthe creation of an authorial identity. Now, in a captivating series ofbiographical snapshots exploring the lives of famous authors and their pennames, author Carmela Ciuraru delivers a unique literaryhistory and a penetrating examination of identity, creativity, andself-creation, revisiting the enduring question—what’s in a name?

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Exploring the fascinating stories of more than a dozen authorial impostors across several centuries and cultures, Carmela Ciuraru plumbs the creative process and the darker, often crippling aspects of fame.

Only through the protective guise of Lewis Carroll could a shy, half-deaf Victorian mathematician at Oxford feel free to let his imagination run wild. The "three weird sisters" from Yorkshire—the Brontës—produced instant bestsellers that transformed them into literary icons, yet they wrote under the cloak of male authorship. Bored by her aristocratic milieu, a cigar-smoking, cross-dressing baroness rejected the rules of propriety by having sexual liaisons with men and women alike, publishing novels and plays under the name George Sand. Highly accessible and engaging, these provocative stories reveal the complex motives of writers who harbored secret identities—sometimes playfully, sometimes with terrible anguish and tragic consequences. Part detective story, part exposé, part literary history, Nom de Plume is an absorbing psychological meditation on identity and creativity.

About the Author:

Carmela Ciuraru is not a pseudonym. Her anthologies include First Loves: Poets Introduce the Essential Poems That Captivated and Inspired Them and Solitude Poems. She is a graduate of Columbia University's School of Journalism and a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She has written for the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, Newsday, Elle Decor, ARTNews, O, The Oprah Magazine, and other publications. She lives in Brooklyn.

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