The Sorrowful Pseudonym

“Lemony Snicket was born before you were, and is likely to die before you as well.  His family has roots in a part of the country that is now underwater”

  The Afflicted Author

Daniel Handler researches quite thoroughly before he writes, and his desire to write a sort of Gothic novel for children led him to read tons of Gothic literature.  One common quality he noticed was the presence of an overwrought narrator, and so he decided to create one.  In this case, he wished to publish under the name of the narrator and create a character that blurred the line of where fiction ends and the real world begins.  The narrators name was, of course, Lemony Snicket.

The name itself was invented when Handler was doing research for his book, The Basic 8, and needed some materials from a political organization to mock.  In an interview with, Handler recalls,  “I didn’t want to be on their mailing list, and so they asked me my name and I said Lemony Snicket.  And then years later when I started writing a Series of Unfortunate of Events, I had this name that was just gathering dust.”

Handler’s brilliance comes from turning Lemony Snicket into something much more than a name.  Lemony Snicket has become just as much of a character as the Baudelaire he writes about.  He is the interactive narrator of all the Series of Unfortunate Events Books, the subject of Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography, and is the main character in Snicket’s latest series All the Wrong Questions.

Lemony Snicket bridges the gap of where the mystery of books end, and where the real world begins.  When about to embark on the book signings and “meet the author” events for A Series of Unfortunate Events, Handler was approached by his agent and asked what he planned to do about revealing the deliciously obscure Lemony Snicket to be a not-so-unordinary Daniel.

Handler agreed to address the dilemma for he felt, “why would you want to destroy the mystery of writing?”

Daniel Handler then assumed the role of Snicket stand-in— excusing Snicket’s absence due to some outrageous disaster which detains him.  Though the audience will miss an ill-fated Snicket, they are satisfied with a humorous, accordion playing, Handler.


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