Anonymous and Pseudonymous Works

General Introductions


Taylor, Archer, and Fredric J. Mosher. The Bibliographical History of Anonyma and Pseudonyma. Chicago: U of Chicago P for Newberry Lib., 1951. 289 pp. Z1041.T3.

A history of the study from the early Christian era to the mid-twentieth century of anonymous and pseudonymous writings. Especially valuable is the selective, annotated bibliography of dictionaries and lists of anonyma and pseudonyma. The list concludes with a guide classified by language or geographic area and subject. The text, but not the bibliography, is indexed by persons and anonymous works. Bibliographical History is now dated, but it remains a valuable guide to extensive early scholarship, much of which has not been superseded.



Halkett, Samuel, and John Laing. A Dictionary of Anonymous and Pseudonymous Publications in the English Language (Halkett and Laing). Vol. 1: 1475–1640. Ed. John Horden. 3rd rev. and enl. ed. London: Longman, 1980. 271 pp. (Work on the 3rd edition has apparently been suspended.) Z1065.H18 014′.2.

———. Dictionary of Anonymous and Pseudonymous English Literature (Halkett and Laing). Ed. James Kennedy et al. New and enl. ed. 9 vols. Edinburgh: Oliver, 1926–62. Z1065.H17 014′.2.

  • Vols. 1–6: A–Z and Supplement. Ed. James Kennedy, W. A. Smith, and A. F. Johnson. 1926–32.

  • Vol. 7: Index and Second Supplement. Ed. Kennedy, Smith, and Johnson. 1934. 588 pp.

  • Vol. 8: 1900–1950. Ed. Dennis E. Rhodes and Anna E. C. Simoni. 1956. 397 pp.

  • Vol. 9: Addenda to Volumes I–VIII. Ed. Rhodes and Simoni. 1962. 477 pp.

A title list of English-language works (including translations and bilingual or multilingual publications with a significant portion in English) that were published anonymously or pseudonymously and whose authorship has been ascribed.

Second edition (1926–62). The second edition lists about 75,000 titles from 1475 through 1949 and includes some works of unattributed authorship. Entries, listed alphabetically by title, cite attributed author, format, pagination, source of the entry, and place and date of publication. Two indexes in vols. 7–9: authors; initials and pseudonyms. Locating an entry is usually time-consuming, since the indexes cite volume and page and researchers must hunt through a title entry to find a name or initials. Users should keep several points in mind: (1) because many entries are taken from other sources—especially the British Museum General Catalogue of Printed Books (see E250a) and Dictionary of National Biography (M1425a), both notoriously inaccurate in attributing authorship—there are numerous errors in transcription of titles (thus making impossible the location of some works) and identification of authorship, and works that are not truly anonymous are included; (2) although the source of an entry is usually recorded, evidence for attribution is not; thus, there is no immediate way of assessing the accuracy of an ascription; (3) because of the organization, books published between 1475 and 1900 are included in vols. 1–6 as well as the supplements in vols. 6, 7, and 9, and books published between 1900 and 1949 are in vols. 8 and 9. Although incomplete, inaccurate, and time-consuming to use, Halkett and Laing remains an essential, if untrustworthy, source for identifying the author of an anonymous or pseudonymous publication. It is partly superseded by the much improved third edition. For a history of the first and second editions, see the preface to vol. 1 of the third edition.

Third edition. The third edition—which was to have become Dictionary of Concealed Authorship: Publications in English, 1475–1700—is limited to separately published English-language works (including translations and bilingual or multilingual publications with a substantial portion in English) that appeared anonymously or pseudonymously between 1475 and 1700 and for which authorship has been established or ascribed. It excludes works falsely attributed or unattributed, although exceptions are made for any works listed in the second edition.

The new edition is a major improvement over its predecessor: along with defining scope more precisely, adding numerous works, correcting many errors, and basing descriptions on the actual examination of copies, the third edition records the evidence and its source for attributions, along with title, place and date of publication, and references to standard bibliographies. Editorial practices are clearly and fully explained in the introduction (pp. xxii–xliv) to vol. 1. Additions and corrections to vol. 1 appear on p. 221. Indexed by writers’ names, with a list of pseudonyms keyed to the index; in addition, vol. 1 prints useful concordances for entry numbers in Greg, Bibliography of the English Printed Drama to the Restoration (M2135); Short-Title Catalogue (M1990; although references are not based on the final version of the second edition of vol. 1); and A. F. Allison and D. M. Rogers, A Catalogue of Catholic Books in English Printed Abroad or Secretly in England, 1558–1640, 2 pts. (Bognor Regis: Arundel, 1956; Bibliog. Studies 3.3–4).

The careful assimilation and evaluation of widely scattered evidence for attributions and many new ascriptions make this new edition of Halkett and Laing the indispensable starting point for identifying the authors of anonymously and pseudonymously published works (before 1700), and the worthy successor to a venerable but flawed reference work.

The National Union Catalogs (E235, E240, and E245) and British National Bibliography (M2775) are also useful sources for identifying the author of an anonymous or pseudonymous work.


Pseudonyms and Nicknames Dictionary: A Guide to 80,000 Aliases, Appellations, Assumed Names, Code Names, Cognomens, Cover Names, Epithets, Initialisms, Nicknames, Noms de Guerre, Noms de Plume, Pen Names, Pseudonyms, Sobriquets, and Stage Names of 55,000 Contemporary and Historical Persons, Including the Subjects’ Real Names, Basic Biographical Information, and Citations for the Sources from Which the Entries Were Compiled. Ed. Jennifer Mossman. 3rd ed. 2 vols. Detroit: Gale, 1987.

New Pseudonyms and Nicknames. 1988. 306 pp. (Gale has no plans to publish further supplements or editions.) CT120.P8 920′.02.

A dictionary of pseudonyms and the like of prominent individuals from all ages and walks of life, with the bulk of the entries for authors, entertainers, and athletes. Names are listed in a single alphabetical sequence, with the main entry (giving birth and death dates, sources for further information, nationality, occupation, and assumed names) under the real name and cross-references for other names. Although this is the fullest single international source for identifying assumed names, the following works include additional literary ones:

  • Atkinson, Frank. Dictionary of Literary Pseudonyms: A Selection of Popular Modern Writers in English. 4th ed. London: Lib. Assn.; Chicago: Amer. Lib. Assn., 1987. 299 pp. Indexed in Biography and Genealogy Master Index (J565).

  • Carty, T. J. A Dictionary of Literary Pseudonyms in the English Language. 2nd ed. London: Mansell; Chicago: Fitzroy, 2000. 844 pp.

  • Marshall, Alice Kahler. Pen Names of Women Writers from 1600 to the Present: A Compendium of the Literary Identities of 2,650 Women Novelists, Playwrights, Poets, Diarists, Journalists, and Miscellaneous Writers. Camp Hill: Alice Marshall Collection, 1985. 181 pp. Indexed in Biography and Genealogy Master Index (J565).

  • Sharp, Harold S., comp. Handbook of Pseudonyms and Personal Nicknames. 2 vols. Metuchen: Scarecrow, 1972. First Supplement. 2 vols. 1975. Second Supplement. 1982. 289 pp.