Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Authors Who Use Their Initials

I may not be able to post this Saturday because I will be out of town, so here's something for you earlier in the week!

I got to wondering the other day . . . what names exist behind the renowned authors who go by their initials? I'm sure most of us know C. S. Lewis and J. K. Rowling, but as I delved in, I realized just how many there are!

Via Pinterest

A. A. Milne~ Most famous in my mind for penning Winnie the Pooh, this gentleman's real name was Alan Alexander. Sounds pretty classy to me, but initials were the way to go in that era.

C. S. Lewis~ As I'm sure you all know, this inspiring writer wrote everything from The Chronicles of Narnia to Christian theology and Greek mythology books. His real name was Clive Staples. I can understand why he might want to go by his initials :)

E. B. White~ I know this man for Charlotte's Web and The Elements of Style (which I highly recommend). His true name has to be one of my favorites: Elwyn Brooks White. How neat is that?!

E. E. Cummings~ I know him for his poetry. Again, he offers some name inspiration with his Edward Estlin Cummings.

F. Scott Fitzgerald~ Known most prominently for The Great Gatsby, this gentleman was named Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald after . . . (you guessed it!) the man who penned The Star-Spangled Banner.

H. G. Wells~  Author of some pretty clever Sci-Fi, such as The Time Machine and War of the Worlds, his actual name was Herbert George Wells.

J. D. Salinger~ Known for The Catcher in the Rye, which I do not recommend even cracking open, his first name removes some of the uniqueness of his last: Jerome David. His father was of Jewish Lithuanian descent, shedding some light on his naming :)

J. K. Rowling~ Whether you read Harry Potter or not, I'm sure you know that is what made this author famous. These initials stand for Joanne Kathleen, the middle name being added only for publishing purposes and taken from Rowling's grandmother. Like most women pseudonyms, she didn't necessarily want her readers knowing she was a woman.

J. M. Barrie~ He tends to be less well known, but was the screenwriter for Peter Pan and is the character portrayed by Johnny Depp in Finding Neverland. (I heartily recommend this movie!) His name was James Matthew Barrie, which sounds very British in my opinion.

J. R. R. Tolkien~ Obviously the author of The Lord of the Rings and good friends with C. S. Lewis, this author's full name was John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. His third name reminds me of the style he used in naming his own characters.

L. Frank Baum~ Author of The Wizard of Oz, his first name was Lyman. Not being favorable to his first name, he used his initial. I personally don't find it much worse than Frank . . .

L. M. Montgomery~ Another female author who made the list, Lucy Maud Montgomery was known for writing Anne of Green Gables and its many sequels. I'm not exactly sure why she used her initials because she is known just as well by her full name.

P. L. Travers~ If you saw the movie Saving Mr. Banks, you will know that this woman penned Mary Poppins. The interesting thing was, these were initials for her pseudonym, Pamela Lyndon Travers. She was actually born Helen Lyndon Goff. Her father's name was Travers and Pamela was her own choice.

T. S. Eliot~ While I'm not certain I've ever read anything of his, I am familiar with his initialed name. His full name was Thomas Stearns Eliot. It always throws me for a loop that his last name has only one 'l'.

W. B. Yeats~ A beautiful poet whom you should all research, his initials stood for William Butler, which sounds to me like a great character name. Down by the Salley Garden is one of my favorites!

W. H. Auden~ A name I am less familiar with, this man was an American poet. Quite frankly, his name was poetic: Wystan Hugh Auden. He was born to be an artist!

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I have to say Elwyn, Estlin, and Wystan are all very awesome names! Reuel, Lyndon, and Travers all offer interesting choices as well. I may have to pull some of these out as character names! If I had a name half that unique, I think I would use it instead of my initials.

That aside, how many of these were new to you? Are there any of your favorites that I forgot?


26 comments:

  1. I use my initials as well! R. J. Steele

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    1. Very cool! I would be open to that for myself but A. C. Ellison almost sounds like a first name when you say it altogether ;)

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  2. This is such a neat post idea! I've actually thought a lot about this before. It's really quite surprising how many authors use their initials. Of course, my favorite authors on this list have to be J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis...but as far as names are concerned, I'm very fond of the name Elwyn. It just sounds like it belongs in Middle-earth!

    Wonderful post, Abigayle!

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    1. Thanks, Mary! I thought Elwyn was very cool as well. You could pay homage to an author you liked without anyone knowing it ;)

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  3. I use my initials, too: J.S. Roth
    I've heard of all those authors (read a lot from them too)! Its so nice to hear another person has heard of Yeats.

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    1. Oh, I definitely like your name with initials! It sounds very professional.

      Haha. Yeats is a pretty recent discovery of mine, but I do enjoy his work :)

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  4. I have thought about using my initials (since my first name is actually two names), but, vain person that I am, I like my name too much to reduce it down to just letters. Very cool, unique post!

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    1. Same, Anne Marie! If you're crazy about your last name, initials are always a good option, but I like my first name just as much. A. C. Ellison sounds a little strange to my ears, anyway :)

      Thanks!

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  5. This was such an interesting post! I really enjoyed reading it!
    Side note: Saving Mr. Banks and Finding Neverland are such amazing movies. I got a little emotional when you mentioned them :P They're both sort of dark, but amazing nonetheless.

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    1. Thanks, Olivia! I had a lot of fun writing it.

      YES! I loved both the movies! They do have a rather dark history to them, now that you mention it, but I love them both, even though they make me cry :)

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  6. Wow! I didn't realize how many people go by their initials. I love C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. :) What a fun idea for a post! :)

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    1. Thanks, Morgan! Yeah, there's a bunch. I'm sure there are others, but I only wanted to do ones I knew about :)

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  7. Regarding "Lyman Frank Baum":
    Lyman -> lie man -> connotation of a dishonest person.
    Frank -> connotation of an honest, if bluntly so, person. Plus it's a more common name, to my understanding.
    And you wonder why he preferred the second over the first?
    That being said, very interesting post!

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    1. Huh, I hadn't thought about it like that, Sarah. You're right, Frank is more common and does carry a better connotation, I suppose. I just always go for more unique names and Lyman fits that category. But it's still not one I like ;)

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  8. It's interesting, I didn't know there were so many

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    1. Me either! I mean, I guess I did, because I'd heard of all of these. But seeing them in a list is more impressive :)

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  9. Wow. I only knew four or five of these! It's interesting that there are so many! :)

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    1. It is, isn't it? I think it was a phase when being an author was more looked down upon, especially for women. But it's neat that there are still authors that do it. :)

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  10. This was really interesting! I knew a few of them already, like Tolkien, Lewis, and Montgomery, but it surprised me how many of them I didn't know and had just never thought about before!
    (On a side note, I played the piano for a choral version of Down by the Salley Gardens last year! It was beautiful.)

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    1. I'm glad you liked it! I was surprised how many I knew when I listed them all out :P

      I love Down by the Salley Gardens. We learned it in my girls choir and I've liked Yeats ever since :)

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  11. Very unique post idea! Is it just me or do the best writers use their initials? :P
    I've entertained the notion of using my own initials but I kind of like my full name...so many decisions when you're a writer!

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    1. Thanks, Emily! Yeah, there are definitely some good ones here! I know, I think I like my full name too much to use my initials, too, although it is a lot of syllables :)

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  12. thats so interesting. I never thought about how many people use initials instead of names. very cool.

    Im new to your blog but I look forward to reading more about your journey to become a writer :) best of luck! to one aspiring author to another.

    and may I ask, what genre do you write?

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    1. Thanks, Faith! The genre of my first novel would probably be Christian Contemporary. However, my second novel with be (depending on what I do next) Fantasy or Historical Fiction, I guess? Anyway, a wide range :) How about you? What genre do you write?

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  13. I found this post fascinating! I don't read too many books from the time period when using initials was popular but I know about the more popular authors like C.S.Lewis. (Who doesn't?) Thank you for sharing!

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    1. I will confess that I have not read ALL of these, but I do know them all. I am a stickler for giving the classics a try, so I will have read all of these some day! I'm glad you liked it :)

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