A category of writers who undergo a name change are the plagiarists [the word derived from the Latin for ‘kidnapper’] – those who ‘steal’ the writing of someone else and put their own name to it. Here there is not the normal change ‘to’ another name but ‘from’ another name to one’s own. The filching or pirating of other people’s works was common among Elizabethan playwrights, when hacks would openly steal the plays of others and present them as their own.
In this case the ‘plagiary’ was by mutual agreement between the ‘thief’ and his victim. Jack London (1876–1916) aided his friend George Sterling (1869–1926); Sterling simply could not get his story ‘The First Poet’ accepted. London included it in his collection of short stories entitled ‘Turtles of Tasman’ (1916). Only some time later did Sterling reveal that he, not London, was the author of that particular story.
Room, A. (1981), ‘Names for a Living’, Naming Names, p.19
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