An Author By Any Other Name


Authors sometimes choose pseudonyms for marketing purposes or in order to rebrand themselves after some catastrophic career decision. Sometimes, they just want anonymity. In the case of Sarah Hall (the journalist), because another Sarah Hall (the Man Booker-shortlisted author) had already published a number of books under her given name, the former was left with the challenge of inventing a pseudonym, a process she found disconcerting. Writing for the Guardian, she explains how she finally settled on Sarah Vaughan:

For a while I toyed with a name that incorporated both my children’s. But, in the end, I realised I was no good at any kind of deception and opted for the solution staring me in the face: I used my married name.

It still feels strange to see it on the cover, since Sarah Vaughan has never written professionally. And yet, perhaps it is apt. Though I would have loved Sarah Hall to have written The Art of Baking Blind, she belongs to a world of 6-800-word news reports, press conferences and lobby lunches.

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at More from this author →