Author surrogate

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As a literary technique, an author surrogate is a fictional character based on the author.[1] On occasion, authors insert themselves under their own name into their works, typically for humorous or surrealistic effect.



British writer David Hume used the author-surrogate 'Philo' in the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. Michael Crichton used his character Ian Malcolm to express views on catastrophic system failure in his novel Jurassic Park. Charles Bukowski employs this through the protagonist Henry Chinaski used in a number of his writings.

Fan fiction[edit]

Main article: Mary Sue

Author surrogacy is a frequently observed phenomenon in hobbyist and amateur writing, so much so that fan fiction critics have evolved the term Mary Sue to refer to an idealized author surrogate.[2] The term 'Mary Sue' is thought to evoke the cliché of the adolescent author who uses writing as a vehicle for the indulgence of self-idealization rather than entertaining others.[citation needed] For male author surrogates, similar names such as 'Marty Stu' or 'Gary Stu' are occasionally used.[3][4]

Other uses[edit]

The expression has also been used in a different sense, meaning the principal author of a multi-author document.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pandey, Ashish (2005). Academic Dictionary Of Fiction. Isha Books. p. 18. ISBN 8182052629. 
  2. ^ Segall (2008). Fan Fiction Writing: New Work Based on Favorite Fiction. Rosen Pub. p. 26. ISBN 1404213562. 
  3. ^ Luc Reid (4 September 2006). Talk the Talk: The Slang of 65 American Subcultures. Writer's Digest Books. p. 300. ISBN 978-1-59963-375-6. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  4. ^ Steven Harper (18 February 2011). Writing the Paranormal Novel: Techniques and Exercises for Weaving Supernatural Elements Into Your Story. Writer's Digest Books. p. 76. ISBN 978-1-59963-301-5. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  5. ^ Thomas Crampton (October 24, 2004). "9/11 Report As An Award-Winning Historical Narrative". The New York Times. Retrieved September 16, 2016 – via History News Network. Call me an author surrogate, not an author, Mr. Zelikow said moments before speaking about the book before the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles. This really is not my book tour since it is not my book.