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At 178 different pen names, Voltaire was probably pushing it when it came to adopting a pseudonym.

Adopting a pseudonym is not unusual among the rich and famous. Madonna, Lady Gaga, even David Bowie. But at 178 different pen names, Voltaire was probably pushing it. And we still don’t even know why he settled on Voltaire!

We could talk about the rebellious writer and philosopher for several card backs so for the sake of keeping things concise, we’re just going to give you some of our favorite highlights. Sounds good? Let’s crack on.

First up, Voltaire had no less than two stints of being locked up in the Bastille for his shenanigans. His words got him in trouble several times after that and he wound up in self-imposed exile in Britain before even the Brits started burning his stuff and booted him out of there too.

Believe it or not, he became hideously wealthy by cheating the French national lottery. While they say that in gambling, the house always wins, in this case, the palace definitely loses. This money kept him living pretty damn comfortably and he was able to fund his writing career with ease.

His writings caused a stir pretty much everywhere he went and he was a radical free thinker. He spoke against the church, the monarchy and slavery. The fact that his writing was considered so scandalous meant that he was forced to use those extra pen names. Just as well he had 178 of them lying around then.

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