Come Clean: Which Famous Authors Do You Mix Up?

Posted by Blair Thornburgh

Who is who?! Which is which?!?!

Not to brag, but I would say I’m pretty good at reading. Like, I have finished entire books, sometimes in under a month. And I like to think that I’m decently acquainted with the literary canon (“Jane Eyre? She’s the one who wrote Pride and Prejudice, right?”).

But I have a secret shame: there are some authors I always, ALWAYS mix up. And I don’t think I’m the only one.

Upton Sinclair and Sinclair Lewis
Okay, so I know one of them wrote The Jungle. And the other one…well, Wikipedia tells me he won the Nobel Prize. I never said I was a role model!


This one is kind of obvious when you look at the photo

George Eliot and George Saunders
Yes, on occasion I cannot remember which is the Victorian novelist and author of Middlemarch who died in 1880 and which one is the multi-genre American writer who is very much still alive.


It doesn't help when you ALL WEAR MATCHING OUTFITS, LADIES.

Anne and Emily Brontë
Okay, I know for sure that Charlotte was the one who wrote Jane Eyre, but the other two? ONE OF THEM WROTE WUTHERING HEIGHTS. That’s all I got. (That, and the fact that the three-sister team was an unstoppable fanfic-writing machine.)


Seriously, without that helpful caption I'd be LOST

J.G. Ballard and J.G. Wentworth
Yeah, the sci-fi writer and the guy from those ads. I don’t even care that Wentworth isn’t technically a writer.

“It’s your money! Get it when YOU need it!”
—J.G. Ballard, award-winning author of Crash


They are all in black and white and suits, I really just can't

Oscar Wilde, Thornton Wilder, and Henry David Thoreau
Please try to follow my logic here; I know this one doesn’t make a lot of sense. Oscar Wilde and Thornton Wilder have kind of the same last name, and Thoreau can sound like “Thornton” if someone pronounces it wrong or you’re not listening very closely. I’m sure they’d be great to get together for some zany mash-up like The Importance of Being Our Town at Walden Pond or something. 


There is totally a family resemblence here, no?

Emily Dickinson and Angie Dickinson
This isn’t a mistake I make so much as one that I saw on the Simpsons once:


Thomas Hardy's The Hardy Boys by Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy
He’s the one who wrote those kids’ books about the mystery-solving brothers, right?



Bonus: C.S. Lewis and Lewis Carroll
This isn’t one of mine, but one of Eric’s. J’ACCUSE, SMITH. I mean, both of them wrote about fantastical fantasy lands reachable by unusual methods (wardrobe and rabbit hole, respectively) but one Lewis was a diehard Christan (C.S.) and one Lewis was a mathematician who specialized in linear algebra (Carroll). There’s got to be a way to put that in a mnemonic, right?

Okay, internet, fess up: who do YOU always confuse?

Blair Thornburgh

Blair Thornburgh

BLAIR THORNBURGH is a graduate of the University of Chicago, where she earned a B.A. in medieval studies and delivered a pretty good commencement speech. She lives in Philadelphia.