'Nom de Plume: A (Secret) History Of Pseudonyms'

Jun 7, 2011

For me, the champion of the nom de plume game will forever be Brian O'Nolan who wrote great modernist novels under the name Flann O'Brien and an important newspaper column in the Irish times under the pen name Miles nagCopaleen. (Miles of the Little Ponies.)

Still not content, he sent letters to the Times, ostensibly from other made up names, attacking his own work. But all writers of fiction are, to varying degree, in flight from their own biographies.   I was reminded of this during a recent onstage conversation with John Irving who bristled when I brought up disclosures, made by Irving himself, about his own life and parentage. Irving said he hated the whole subject because it tended to douse, in the minds of readers, the whole idea of the imaginative act. If people know your story, they think you're not inventing anything, he said. One of the many reasons for noms de plume.  Leave your comments below, e-mail colin@wnpr.org or Tweet us @wnprcolin.