Allusionist 98. Alter Ego

Today: three pieces about alter egos, when your name - the words by which the world knows you - is replaced by another for particular purposes.

  • How did John Doe come to be the name for a man, alive or dead, identity unknown or concealed in a legal matter? Strap in for a whirlwind ride into some frankly batshit centuries-old English law.

  • At their first bout of the 2019 season, the London Roller Girls talk about how they chose their roller derby names - or why they chose to get rid of one.

  • The 1930s and 40s were a golden age for detective fiction, which was also very popular and lucrative. Yet writing it was disreputable enough for authors to hide behind pseudonyms.

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Allusionist 14: Behave


Sometimes words can become your worst enemy. Clinical psychologist and cognitive behavioural therapist Dr Jane Gregory tells how to defuse their power.

NB: Today's show concerns mental health, and the discussion nudges some topics which may not be comfortable for everybody. So if you have concerns, please sit this episode out, and return in two weeks for the next one.


This episode was sponsored by Animoto. Visit to try out their marvellously easy and swift video-making tools; and if you sign up for a pro account, you can get 15% off if you use the code WORDS. I've really been enjoying my first forays into video-making thanks to them; you can view this week's effort, a compilation of shudder-inducing portmanteau terms, here.



I'll be back in a fortnight with a new episode. If you like this show, do tell someone about it. Not in a creepy pyramid scheme way; play it cool.

- HZ

The Allusionist is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX.