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Praise.

“Nom de Plume is a fascinating collection of stories – populated by individuals whose ‘doubleness’ is so distinct that they acquire secondary personalities, and, in some notable cases, multiple personalities.  It’s a richly documented literary excursion into the inner, secret lives of some of our favorite writers.”

Joyce Carol Oates

“This is a fascinating book on a fascinating subject. We all have other selves, but only some of us give them a name and let them loose in the world. Carmela Ciuraru steps behind a host of shadowy facades to interrogate the originals, and the result is both enlightening and wonderfully entertaining.”

John Banville, author of The Sea, winner of the Man Booker Prize

“Nom de Plume uses the device of the pseudonym to unite the likes of Charlotte Bronte, Mark Twain, Fernando Pessoa, and Patricia Highsmith into a cohesive yet highly idiosyncratic literary history. Each page affords sparkling facts and valuable insights onto the manufacturing of books and reputations, the keeping and revealing of secrets, the vagaries of private life and public opinion, and the eternally mysterious, often tormented interface between life and literature.”

Elif Batuman, author of The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them

“What to make of the paradox that some of the boldest writers have hidden behind pen names?  Carmela Ciuraru has performed a valuable service in examining the phenomenon through her charming, sprightly, and illuminating biographical essays.”

Phillip Lopate

“Nom de Plume is a delicious investigation of what leads the likes of the Brontës, Samuel Clemens, and Karen Blixen to ditch their names for safer, more romantic, or more intriguing identities when they write.  Whether their reasons are practical or mysterious, their lives and choices are here charmingly limned by Carmela Ciuraru (a name that, in itself, has the allure of a pseudonym).”

Honor Moore, author of The Bishop’s Daughter

“With skilled research and palpable empathy, Ciuraru chronicles the lives of secretive storytellers–those who wished to communicate without being known…. Through well-chosen quotes, Ciuraru lets the authors speak for themselves. By sampling extensively from letters and diaries, she shows the vast gulf that can exist between an author’s identity and his or her persona on the page…. Unwilling to sugarcoat or oversimplify, Ciuraru frankly describes the use and abuse of pseudonyms throughout history…. With description that captures the imagination, Nom de Plume is what nonfiction should be – accessible, thought-provoking, and highly entertaining.” –The Christian Science Monitor


“Imagine this: You are on the second-to-last page of Carmela Ciuraru’s “Nom de Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms” and wishing you weren’t because this book is such great fun….  Ciuraru has chosen for herself a difficult task: telling the truth about 18 writers who, by virtue of their art and their own circumstances, are liars. To uncover the mysteries and tell the truth, she has done prodigious research: The bibliography runs to seven pages. She avoids judgment, psychologizing and tedium. She writes in a voice that is intelligent, confident and trustworthy. We do not doubt for a minute that what we are reading is as close to the truth as we’re likely to get.” The San Francisco Chronicle

“This is a book you’ll not easily put down because of its highly entertaining, colorful and engrossing biographies. Ciuraru delightfully pulls back the curtain on literary eccentrics whose complicated lives drove them to publish under pseudonyms and — with unusual biographical details that bring the writers to life on the page — divulges the effects that rippled through their careers and personal lives…. What makes Nom de Plume a stand-out from mere encyclopedic rendering is Ciuraru’s enjoyment of her material, which resonates in each biography – delightful energy spiced with Ciuraru’s wit, her amusing asides and clever presentations.” –The Longest Chapter

“Ciuraru (Solitude Poems) includes 18 writers–from George Sand to George Orwell–in her lively literati masquerade party, recounting events that led to their pen names along with intriguing peeks behind their masks…this survey of authors who sought anonymity and privacy is well researched. Amid informative, illuminating profiles, Ciuraru successfully ferrets out curious literary charades.” ―Publishers Weekly

“Pseudonyms are the subject of Carmela Ciuraru’s engrossing, well-paced literary history Nom de Plume….Ciuraru focuses on eighteen literary pseudonyms from the nineteenth to the twentieth century, and while her introduction touches on recent examples that are either cringe-worthy (JT LeRoy, Margaret B. Jones) or defensible (Doris Lessing, Stephen King), Ciuraru confines her book to the deceased. It’s biography on the quick, and done well.” Bookforum