George Martin’s death name mix-up is a risk for every author with a common name

The great musical producer George Martin’s death last week apparently led to rumours that the other George Martin – the one with the same middle initials as Tolkien – had also met his demise.

Of course George R R Martin is very much alive. Still, that underscores the point that people with the same names often get conflated.

My "Illustrated History of New Zealand"
My “Illustrated History of New Zealand”. Not written by a lecturer from Exeter University. Click the picture to buy it on Amazon Kindle.

There are a lot of people with the same name as me who write, for instance. I know this because my books and theirs get muddled up on Goodreads, Amazon and everywhere else. Google think a lecturer at the University of Exeter wrote some of my key material.

It’s happened outside the virtual world too. I’ve written a couple of New Zealand railway books and a few years back somebody else with the same name as me also wrote one. I discovered it when I got a call from a bookshop wondering how they could source ‘my’ new book.

As it happens, my publications list is on public record – here. That’s the official list, and there is no other.

My main concern, of course, is that my name is really common – there are 42 Matthew Wrights on the New Zealand electoral lists alone (I know, I rang the Chief Electoral Officer to find out). That’s quite apart from the monolithic number on Facebook. And what happens if one of the other Matthew Wrights does something heinous?

Back in 2013 there were reports of a 20-year old Matthew Wright dressing as an Oompa Loompa and beating people up in a British street.

  • The luck I have, I’ll be the one tarred with any deed.

I always knew I should’ve used a pseudonym. Or added a lot of middle names, preferably starting with the letter ‘R’. I think that’s the key to great fantasy writing, and possibly the more of them you have, the better the book will sell, though I may be wrong there. Matthew R R R R R R R R R R R Wright? Why not…

Meanwhile, don’t forget to jump across to Facebook and click ‘like’ on my author page – that’s MY author page, not the 8,996,393 other author pages with the same name: https://www.facebook.com/MatthewWrightNZ/

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2016


20 thoughts on “George Martin’s death name mix-up is a risk for every author with a common name

      1. So you are still the lucky one who have their “first time” to read Game of Thrones. Cool! (I just finished the last published book, amazing)

    1. It’s astonishing how many people have the same name. I always thought I should avoid it by writing under a pseudonym like Xylxxyr Aaaaaabb or something, but I somehow doubt that one would go credibly with one or two of the books I’ve written (though it might with most of them…)

  1. There’s a Matthew Wright listed in Missoula. I keep calling and leaving messages for you, but you don’t call back. The last time I talked to Uncle Nathaniel he said you’d be trouble.😉

    For me, the George Martin who passed was the bigger loss, but I’m sure that’s due to musical tastes.

    1. LOL! ☺ Yes, the music George Martin was more important for me too. I have never got ‘in’ to the GoT universe, though there is no denying the quality of the work – and all kudos to George RR for creating something that has brought so much pleasure to such a wide audience.

  2. My author profile at Barnes & Noble has a picture of a US television presenter with the same name as me. He’s better loooking than me so I haven’t bothered asking B&N to remove it.

    1. There’s a UK tv presenter with my name. We don’t get his show in NZ but I gather he has a profile over there. And his own Wikipedia page, which is more than I and, indeed, most of the Matthew Wrights of the world have ever managed.

      1. I had to remind myself who Matthew Wright (UK) was. I recognise his face, but he’s part of morning television culture so not that familiar to me and certainly no threat to any namesakes outside Britain.

    1. It was brilliantly funny. I did wonder for a moment whether I should do something more notorious, such as dressingvup as Batman and jumping off the local wharf during Birdman day or something. Alas, there is ANOTHER Matthew Wright locally who has already been in the media playing dress-ups, so it seems a bit superfluous for me to do it…

      1. hahaha you should’ve- that would’ve been brilliant!! ahh that’s a shame that he’s beaten you to it! Maybe the next time I read about some crazy stunt that a Matthew Wright does it’ll be you :p

  3. When my husband first told me that George Martin had died, I totally made that same mistake. My first thought was, “Uh-oh, there are going to be a lot of sad A Song of Ice and Fire fans in the world.”

  4. In the obscure world of library cataloguing (where I’ve worked for 20+ years), there is something called “authority control,” whereby every author has a unique form of name to avoid confusion of the sort you mention. Usually dates of birth (and/or death) are added, sometimes rather iffy qualifiers such as (Cartoonist) or (Writer on history). Wikipedia has something similar to achieve “disambiguation.” and IMDB assigns Roman numerals to distinguish people with the same or similar names. But even among librarians this has been rendered “quaint” by the Google one-size-fits-all search box. It is a useful concept, but somehow has failed to catch on in the new technology-driven milieu. There is a rather nice authority record for you in the Library of Congress’s database: http://authorities.loc.gov/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?AuthRecID=2243499&v1=1&HC=1&SEQ=20160317010406&PID=_7O5NvuOYP3l6jvR1vh4omIW43RsO (Hope this lumpy-looking link works!) So you can expect that in libraries, at least, your books won’t be mixed up with those of others.
    Googling my own name has brought up a mixed bag of Audrey Driscolls, one or two of whom are featured in mug-shot databases (not me!)

  5. Thanks for pointing that out – I didn’t know about it! I couldn’t get the link to work but it’s good to know it’s there. New Zealand has something similar – the National Library of New Zealand’s legal deposit database carries a correct record of my books. However, it’s not easily accessible online.

  6. I used to dislike my last name as being too long and clunky, but the only other Tom Burkhalter that publishes is a musicologist in Switzerland. So maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all.😉

  7. There are many Susan Prestons…. which is why I use my middle initials on my books, and why I had to settle for susanprestonauthor as a domain name. In your case it would be more frustrating I see.🙂

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