16 October 2017


Pseudonyms are names adopted by a person for a particular purpose, which differs from his or her true name. There are so many examples of pseudonyms that I will have to break this topic into several posts in order to cover author "pen names," and those chosen by musicians, social activists, politicians, actor stage names, visual artists, athletes, fashion designers, or criminals.
Even fictional characters that are not real have pseudonyms, for example, almost all superheroes.

Just a few examples from various fields:

The visual artist Caravaggio was born Michelangelo Merisi, while Le Corbusier (Charles Edouard Jeanneret) Man Ray (Emmanuel Radnitzky) and Marc Chagall (Moishe Shagal) were all known for their pseudonyms.

Social activists Mahatma Gandhi (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi) and Mother Teresa (Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu), Malcolm X (Malcolm Little), Mother Jones (Mary Harris Jones) are best known for their pseudonyms. Israeli leader Golda Meir was originally Golda Meyerson.

Taking activism to another revolutionary level, during the underground fight against the British in Mandatory Palestine, commander Yitzchak Shamir (later Prime Minister of Israel) adopted the nom de guerre "Michael", in honour of Ireland's Michael Collins. Mexican revolutionary Francisco "Pancho" Villa was José Doroteo Arango Arámbula. North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh was Nguyễn Sinh Cung and Russian dictator Joseph Stalin was originally Ioseb Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili.

During World War II, the German pilot known as The Red Baron was really Manfred von Richthofen, but he was known as The Red Knight, which was the pseudonym created by British journalists for von Richthofen.

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