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Street & Smith, the publishers of The Shadow, asked Walter B. Gibson, a writer hired to chronicle the Shadow's adventures, to create a pen name for the Shadow's author for several reasons, primarily so that numerous authors could be used to write the stories without confusing the readers. Gibson, who was also a nonfiction writer, wanted to use a pen name for his fiction. He adopted the pen name Maxwell Grant, taking the name from two magic dealers he knew, Maxwell Holden and U.F. Grant.
Four authors besides Gibson have used the Maxwell Grant pen name: Theodore Tinsley, who wrote 27 Shadow stories between 1936 and 1943; Lester Dent, who wrote one story, The Golden Vulture, in 1938; Bruce Elliott, who wrote 15 Shadow stories between 1946 and 1948; and Dennis Lynds, who wrote nine Shadow paperback novels between 1964 and 1967.