The Real Names of 18 Authors Known by Initials


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.

Everything You Need to Know About Food in One Book

If you find yourself mixing up nigiri and sashimi at sushi restaurants or don’t know which fruits are in season, then this is the book for you. Food & Drink Infographics, published by TASCHEN, is a colorful and comprehensive guide to all things food and drink.

The book combines tips and tricks with historical context about the ways in which different civilizations illustrated and documented the foods they ate, as well as how humans went from hunter-gatherers to modern-day epicureans. As for the infographics, there’s a helpful graphic explaining the number of servings provided by different cake sizes, a heat index of various chilies, a chart of cheeses, and a guide to Italian cold cuts, among other delectable charts.

The 480-page coffee table book, which can be purchased on Amazon for $56, is written in three languages: English, French, and German. The infographics themselves come from various sources, and the text is provided by Simone Klabin, a New York City-based writer and lecturer on film, art, culture, and children’s media.

Keep scrolling to see a few of the infographics featured in the book.

An infographic about cheese

An infographic about cakes
Courtesy of TASCHEN

An infographic about fruits in season
Courtesy of TASCHEN
YouTube/Great Big Story
See the Secret Paintings Hidden in Gilded Books
YouTube/Great Big Story
YouTube/Great Big Story

The art of vanishing fore-edge painting—hiding delicate images on the front edges of gilded books—dates back to about 1660. Today, British artist Martin Frost is the last remaining commercial fore-edge painter in the world. He works primarily on antique books, crafting scenes from nature, domestic life, mythology, and Harry Potter. Great Big Story recently caught up with him in his studio to learn more about his disappearing art. Learn more in the video below.


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