If Victorians Surfed the Web: 50 Pseudonyms from the 1880s

In the spirit of the last post, I rediscovered another gem from long ago which I’d always intended to blog about: Victorian pseudonyms!

Back in 1880–1885, Lewis Carroll—author of the Alice books and real-life mathematician—wrote a series of math story problems for magazine readers to try to solve. Some participants mailed their answers to him using their real names or initials, but others were more creative. After giving them a chance to solve each puzzle, Carroll published the correct answer, calling out certain lucky (or unlucky) individuals by their pseudonyms. The collection of stories and solutions was later published under the title A Tangled Tale.

Below, in order of appearance, are some of the names readers chose for themselves. You can just picture them wielding those usernames on blogs or forums today… Bonus points if you can identify which ones come from classic stories!

Victorian Pseudonyms

  1. A Nihilist
  2. A Mother’s Son
  3. A Redruthian
  4. A Socialist
  5. Spear Maiden
  6. Vis Inertiæ
  7. Yak
  8. A Marlborough Boy
  9. Sea Breeze
  10. Simple Susan
  11. Money Spinner
  12. Galanthus Nivalis Major
  13. Bog-Oak
  14. Bradshaw of the Future
  15. Alphabetical Phantom
  16. Dinah Mite
  17. H.M.S. Pinafore
  18. Old Cat
  19. Rags and Tatters
  20. Mad Hatter
  21. Scrutator
  22. The Red Queen
  23. Cheeky Bob
  24. Bo-Peep
  25. Financier
  26. Sea-Gull
  27. Thistledown
  28. Cheshire Cat
  29. Waiting for the Train
  30. Common Sense
  31. Veritas
  32. A Ready Reckoner
  33. Three-Fifths Asleep
  34. Dublin Boy
  35. Yahoo
  36. Duckwing
  37. Euroclydon
  38. Land Lubber
  39. Polichinelle
  40. Old Hen
  41. Mrs. Sairey Gamp
  42. An Ancient Fish
  43. Froggy
  44. Turtle Pyate (Lewis: “what is a Turtle Pyate, please?”)
  45. Old Crow
  46. The Shetland Snark
  47. A Christmas Carol
  48. Old King Cole
  49. Theseus
  50. An Old Fogey

5 responses to “If Victorians Surfed the Web: 50 Pseudonyms from the 1880s”

  1. brilliant… and humorous… i got some of them but not all by any means..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. rdavis4653gmailcom Avatar

    Color me baffled …. and clueless in spite of the clues ….


    1. They were a quirky bunch!


  3. Brilliant list! This reminds me of the 1960’s and 70’s when people had CB radio handles with calling cards for their pseudonyms. Our internet behavior is really not unique in the history of human interactions lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right?! Looking at some of these, you can almost figure out what kind of person they’d be on social media 😉


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About Me

Hi, I’m Marian—sharing a fondness for classics and other books here and on my YouTube channel. I’m a Christian, designer, and avid tea drinker, and my home is the beautiful Pacific Northwest, US.


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