Dedicated to the legacy of Edward Stratemeyer, author & founder of the Stratemeyer Syndicate

Pseudonym (pseud.) or Pen Name or Nom-de-Plume

When a work is published under a name that is different from the author’s own name, it is said to be published under a pseudonym.

Some pseudonyms, like “Mark Twain,” are always associated with a given writer (Samuel L. Clemens). In series books, Martha Farquharson’s books (Elsie Dinsmore and Mildred Keith series) are published under the name “Martha Finley.”

Sometimes these pseudonyms are used to continue publishing under a name that is known to the reading public and booksellers even though that author’s name may have changed due to marriage.

Some pseudonyms are adopted to mask the gender of a writer, especially if the main perceived audience is different from that of the writer and the difference might affect sales.

In times of war a surname that appears to be from a country in conflict might be avoided to ensure that sales are not harmed. Likewise, a name that has a particular ethnic connotation might be simplified for the sake of sales.

In the field of juvenile series books, it was also common for a name to be owned by a publisher or book packager, like the Stratemeyer Syndicate. In this way, multiple authors could contribute texts to be published under a name and the readers would generally not know that several writers were involved. This kind of pseudonym is often considered a trade business secret and is less likely to be revealed than a mere personal pseudonym.

There are even cases where a real author’s name becomes a pseudonym for the work of other “ghostwriters” if the publisher wishes to have more books under an author’s name and the original author has died or declines to write further works.

Irene Elliott Benson died in 1913 after writing two Campfire Girls stories. The publisher, M.A. Donohue, published other similar stories under her name to brand them as a series either by accident or by design.

Similarly, the Dorothy Chester series (1907) was begun by the Stratemeyer Syndicate and published under the first writer’s name, Evelyn Raymond. When Edward Stratemeyer had a disagreement with the publisher, Chatterton-Peck, he took his series and plates to another publisher. The old publisher began a new “Dorothy” series and had Evelyn Raymond write them. After she died in 1910, another writer was asked to continue the series.

The Dorothy series was continued by another author after the original author died.

The Dorothy series was continued by another author after the original author died.

 

This definition and discussion of a term applied to collecting juvenile series books is part of a Glossary of specialized terms. At the outset a new term or topic is added once a week on “Terminology Tuesdays” on Stratemeyer.org.

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