Call it pseudonym, pen-name or even nom de plume. All of it refers to an assumed name under which a person writes or functions as an artiste. The practice of pseudonym is as old as literature itself. George Orwell, for instance, was the pen-name of a person originally called Eric Blair. Similarly, Mary Ann Evans wrote the pseudonym of George Eliot. Why do people use pen names? The reasons could be many:
– Many writers use the names of near and dear ones as a mark of love and respect for them. The famous Kananda writer Sri D.R. Bendre wrote under the name of Ambika Tanaya Datta, Which literally means Dutta, the son of Ambika (his mother’s name).
– The clash of interest may force some to use pen-name. Like a person who used a pseudonym on his articles criticizing the medical research because he worked for a pharmaceutical company.
– Introverts who truly shun publicity use pen-names to keep their low-profile existence intact.
– People who work in more than one field often use pen-names. For instance, the famous music director of yesteryears C. Ramachandra used also to double as a singer under the name Chitalkar.
– The prevailing fashion of a given era. It is for the same reason that in the mid-20th century Bollywood, Yousuf Khan became Dilip Kumar and Harikrishna Goswami became Manoj Kumar.
– Then there are people who suffer from a malady called ‘Cacoethes Scribendi”- an uncontrollable itch to write. Such folks write in some local rags under pseudonym, so that their sub-standard output may not be attributed to them.
In a nutshell, human mind finds many reasons to be anonymous, some of which are legitimate, while others are not.