The name I use as an author is “Margaret McNamara.” But it isn’t my real name. It’s my pen name. My pen name is like a nickname I use just when I write books.
There have been many writers who have used pen names when they write. You can ask your teacher or school librarian for examples. I write under the name Margaret McNamara because it was my grandmother’s name, and my grandmother was a great reader. Margaret had a nickname of her own: all her life, she was called Peggy.
Peggy was born in a tiny village in Ireland, where she taught herself to read. When Peggy turned twenty-one, she moved to America, and she worked for a family who had a large number of books in their home library. One day, the gentleman she worked for said, “You may borrow any book you’d like, Peggy, as long as you give it back when you’re finished.” That evening, Peggy chose a book called Oliver Twist. The next morning, she returned it.
“Please, keep it till you’ve read the whole book,” said the gentleman.
“I have read the whole book,” said Peggy. And that evening, and almost every evening afterwards, Peggy took a book home and read it. (Some of the books took her more than one day to read.)
My grandmother Margaret McNamara had very little formal schooling–she didn’t go to high school or college–but she was one of the most knowledgeable people I’ve ever known. And so I use her name to honor her.
I did not teach myself to read. My mother and my teachers taught me. At first it was tricky learning the letters and the sounds and putting them all together to make sense. But once I got the hang of it, I loved to read, and I still do. I don’t think I’ll ever read as many books as the real Margaret McNamara did, but one thing is for sure: the more I read, the more I know, and the more I understand myself, and the world.
Thank you for reading the Robin Hill School books. I hope they lead you to many wonderful books by many wonderful authors. Maybe you will write books some day. I wonder what pen name you would choose.