Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Guy Thorne: Why I Chose My Pen-Name

From Pearson's Weekly, 4 July 1907: 

“Guy Thorne”  (C. Ranger Gull), the author of “When It Was Dark”

          I chose my pen-name of “Guy Thorne” in the following way and for the following reasons:

Some four or five years ago I had written a good many novels under my own name. These novels were not at all concerned with religious matters. They were ordinary society novels dealing with the problems of modern life, as I saw it.
One day it occurred to me that the theory of the modern novel is all wrong. It is not, in the majority of cases, a true representation of modern life, because it absolutely ignores what is an integral part of every man and woman's life in Britain—religion.
People who are irreligious are just as interested in the religious question as the larger majority who are more or less religious. Therefore it seemed to me that a story of the British life, which entirely ignored and made no mention of religious matters, only represented a part of life.
Pursuing this line of thought, I came to see that a novel which should express these views and show how intimately religion is bound up with the lives of everybody, even those who do not appreciate the fact and would not allow it, would probably interest a great many people. I set up to write this book.
When I was half way through it I began to realise that if I published it under my own name the story might possibly have the result of alienating the regular circle of readers I had won, for the reason that it was not the literary fare which they were accustomed to buy under my name. I resolved to make the experiment of issuing a story under a pseudonym.
The pseudonym was not an easy thing to choose. The name ought to be, I thought, something which was easily said and easily remembered. I decided upon a name of two single syllables. “Guy” is about the shortest Christian name in the English language, so I resolved upon that.
Writers have always to be students of how words sound when they are spoken. I have been a student of sound in this way. I knew that a long “i” sound ought to be followed by a longer vowel sound, but which, in its constitution, allowed a drop in the voice. The human voice always drops at the end of a statement. From that it was not difficult to evolve the surname of “Thorne,” which seems to me to fulfill the conditions I had laid down for a pen-name, and, in conjunction with “Guy,” to have a certain picturesqueness. This is the simple story of my pen-name.

[signed]  Guy Thorne

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Why I Chose My Pen-Name: Dick Donovan

From Pearson's Weekly, 4 July 1907: 

"Dick Donovan" who is busily writing a splendid series of stories that will start shortly in Pearson's.

Many years ago I was asked to write a series of detective stories to be published in a widely-read journal with which I was then associated. I was not particularly anxious to undertake the work, and imposed a condition that if I did the articles must appear under a nom de guerre.

This was agreed to, and then I became puzzled about the selection of a suitable name.

I chanced, however, to be looking over some old records of Bow Street when that historic thoroughfare occupied the position that Scotland Yard does at the present day. The "Bow Street Runners" had a rough and arduous time of it, for they were not aided by telegraphs and railways. They were veritable sleuth hounds tracking their prey by trail and scent.

I noted that among those who most distinguished themselves towards the end of the eighteenth century was a Mr. Richard Donovan, He was a terror to evil doers, and was the means of bringing some of the notorious criminals of his day to a well-deserved end. It at once occurred to me that by abbreviating Richard into Dick I had an excellent pen-name in "Dick Donovan," and one that would cling to the public memory. 

I therefore adopted it, and I hope that the spirit of the dead and gone Mr. Richard Donovan has not been perturbed thereby

 [signed:] J.E. Preston Muddock