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The Real Names of 18 Authors Known by Initials

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Want to be an author? You should probably think about going by your first and middle initials. A surprising number of writers have struck literary gold while remaining semi-anonymous by using initials instead of full names. Here are a handful of them - and some of the reasons why they opted to drop their given names.

1. E.B. White – Elwyn Brooks

2. A.A. Milne – Alan Alexander

3. C.S. Lewis – Clive Staples. Apparently Lewis never liked his given name. It’s often said that he assumed the name of a beloved dog named Jacksie after it was hit by a car, but his brother had a different story to tell about how the name came to be:

Then, in the course of one holiday, my brother made the momentous decision to change his name. Disliking "Clive," and feeling his various baby-names to be beneath his dignity, he marched up to my mother, put a forefinger on his chest, and announced "He is Jacksie." He stuck to this next day and thereafter, refusing to answer to any other name: Jacksie it had to be, a name contracted to Jacks and then to Jack. So to his family and his intimate friends, he was Jack for life: and Jack he will be for the rest of this book.

4. H.G. Wells – Herbert George

5. H.P. Lovecraft – Howard Phillips

6. J.D. Salinger - Jerome David. As a kid, however, most people called him “Sonny.”

7. F. Scott Fitzgerald - Francis. Actually, it was Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, and no, the name wasn’t a coincidence. He was named after that Francis Scott Key, the one who wrote The Star Spangled Banner. They were second cousins, three times removed.

8. S.E. Hinton - Susan Eloise. The Outsiders author used initials instead of her full name on the advice of her publisher. Her publisher didn’t want reviewers to skew one way or another based on Hinton’s sex.

9. J.K. Rowling - Joanne K. Jo Rowling added a "K" for Kathleen (her grandma’s name) at her publisher’s request. According to Rowling's website, the publisher "thought that a woman’s name would not appeal to the target audience of young boys."

10. E.E. Cummings - Edward Estlin. I had always heard that Cummings insisted on using lowercase letters for his initials, but according to his widow, that was a myth.

11. L.M. Montgomery - Lucy Maud. The Anne of Green Gables author loathed her first name and insisted on being called Maud by friends and family. Sounds kind of similar to Anne with an “e” being “so much more distinguished,” don’t you think?

12. W.B. Yeats - William Butler

13. T.S. Eliot - Thomas Stearns

14. L. Frank Baum - Lyman. As is the case with several of these examples, the man who created a character named Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs simply didn’t care for his given name.

15. P.G. Wodehouse - Pelham Grenville. I’m guessing there are a couple of reasons he went with P.G., the least of which is that “Pelham Grenville Wodehouse” takes up a lot of real estate on book covers.

16. W.H. Auden - Wystan Hugh

17. J.M. Barrie - James Matthew

18. J.R.R. Tolkien - John Ronald Reuel. As a child, his family called him Ronald.

This post originally appeared in 2011.

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Kyle Ely
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Dedicated Middle School Teacher Transforms His Classroom Into Hogwarts
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Kyle Ely

It would be hard to dread back-to-school season with Kyle Ely as your teacher. As ABC News reports, the instructor brought a piece of Hogwarts to Evergreen Middle School in Hillsboro, Oregon by plastering his classroom with Harry Potter-themed decor.

The journey into the school's makeshift wizarding world started at his door, which was decorated with red brick wall paper and a "Platform 9 3/4" sign above the entrance. Inside, students found a convincing Hogwarts classroom complete with floating candles, a sorting hat, owl statues, and house crests. He even managed to recreate the starry night sky effect of the school’s Great Hall by covering the ceiling with black garbage bags and splattering them with white paint.

The whole project cost the teacher around $300 to $400 and took him 70 hours to build. As a long-time Harry Potter fan, he said that being able to share his love of the book series with his students made it all pay off it. He wrote in a Facebook post, "Seeing their faces light up made all the time and effort put into this totally worth it."

Inside of Harry Potter-themed classroom.

Inside of Harry Potter-themed classroom.

Inside of Harry Potter-themed classroom.

Though wildly creative, the Hogwarts-themed classroom at Evergreen Middle School isn't the first of its kind. Back in 2015, a middle school teacher in Oklahoma City outfitted her classroom with a potions station and a stuffed version of Fluffy to make the new school year a little more magical. Here are some more unique classroom themes teachers have used to transport their kids without leaving school.

[h/t ABC News]

Images courtesy of Kyle Ely.

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How the Rise of Paperback Books Turned To Kill a Mockingbird Into a Literary Classic
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If you went to middle or high school in the U.S. in the last few decades, chances are you’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee's now-classic novel (which was adapted into a now-classic film) about racial injustice in the South. Even if you grew up far-removed from Jim Crow laws, you probably still understand its significance; in 2006, British librarians voted it the one book every adult should read before they die. And yet the novel, while considered an instant success, wasn’t always destined for its immense fame, as we learned from the Vox video series Overrated. In fact, its status in the American literary canon has a lot to do with the format in which it was printed.

To Kill a Mockingbird came out in paperback at a time when literary houses were just starting to invest in the format. After its publication in 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird was reviewed favorably in The New York Times, but it wasn’t the bestselling novel that year. It was the evolution of paperbacks that helped put it into more hands.

Prior to the 1960s, paperbacks were often kind of trashy, and when literary novels were published in the format, they still featured what Vox calls “sexy covers,” like a softcover edition of The Great Gatsby that featured a shirtless Jay Gatsby on the cover. According to a 1961 article in The New York Times, back in the 1950s, paperbacks were described as “a showcase for the ‘three S’s—sex, sadism, and the smoking gun.’” But then, paperbacks came to schools.

The mass-market paperback for To Kill a Mockingbird came out in 1962. It was cheap, but had stellar credentials, which appealed to teachers. It was a popular, well-reviewed book that earned Lee the Pulitzer Prize. Suddenly, it was in virtually every school and, even half a century later, it still is.

Learn the whole story in the video below from Vox.

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