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 

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