This exhibition explores the use of pen names by authors working in Britain from the 1800s to the present day.
'Pen Names' runs from 8 July 2022 to 29 April 2023.
What do the George Eliot and Lewis Grassic Gibbon have in common?
They are both pen names, also known as pseudonyms or noms de plume.
'Pen Names' invites visitors to explore how ideas of gender, genre, privacy, reputation, authorship, and authenticity influence authors’ use of pen names in the past and today.
On show are rare first editions, pulp fiction titles, popular novels and unique collections items. A selection of authors illustrate how and why novelists, poets and playwrights working in Britain publish under pseudonyms or versions of their birth names.
'Pen names' is arranged around three paired themes that influenced different writers' use of a pseudonym.
While some pen names incorporate elements of given or family names, others are complete inventions. The reasons for using a pen name might be practical, personal, professional or to create a public persona.
Who's behind these items?
Sit and read. When you visit 'Pen Names', relax in a reading area where you can browse books written by authors featured in the exhibition.
Design and make. Pick up an activity sheet at the gallery and create your own book cover. Choose a pen name and genre, think of a title for your book and design a cover illustration. Will it be a bestseller?
Smartify. Visit the National Library of Scotland on Smartify to find out more about some of the books, letters and other items on display. The Smartify app is free to download.
If you have a smartphone, you can download the app using free Library Wi-Fi at the exhibition.
Visit the 'Pen Names' exhibition at our George IV Bridge building in Edinburgh.
The exhibition space is open during the following hours:
- Monday, Tuesday and Thursday: 9:30am to 7pm
- Wednesday: 10am to 7pm
- Friday and Saturday: 9:30am to 5pm.
Admission is free.
Please note: The Library's George IV Bridge building will close at 4.30pm on Wednesday 29 March for an event.