You are here:

Writing Books/use of real names in publishing


In writing a fictional novel, fictional main characters, but set in a true historical setting I want to refer to the historical figures by their real names. One such individual died in 2009. I think that the history is just that, that is the way the events happened and to separate the real people or change their names would ruin the story.  All of the characteres to which I refer are deceased and their records prominent in many historical records. I think about the movie Titanic in which Kathy Bates played Molly Brown who actually was on the ship. However her relationship with DiCaprio (Jack) and Winslet (Rose) was a fictional story. I think it must be OK to use the real name. Please advise. MMcCoy

The movie Titanic had written permission by surviving family who received royalties.

Unless you have surviving family's written permission to use the deceased real names, you cannot.

Using real names without permission can lead to liable; slander, defamation of character, etc.


Writing Books

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Jannie Balliett


I am a published writer, Chief Editor and own A1 Editorial Service. I teach writing, specializing in novel writing, and creative writing. I can answer most any question concerning writing a book, plot and characterization, tighten the prose, and the editing process, and help advise with publishing and the requirements of obtaining a literary agent.


I'm a published writer, freelancer, and Chief Editor and own A1 Editorial Service. I teach writing for my two Online writer workshops.

Sisters In Crime Internet Chapter, The Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Brazos Writers Group.

Writers Post Journal magazine, May 2006 issue, Augusr 2006 issue, Nov/December 2006 issue and soon in 2008, On A Whim, flash fiction anthology, offered in Barnes & Nobles and Amazon.

Some college, creative writing, fiction writing

Past/Present Clients
I have numerous clients using my service through my editorial service and numerous members in my Online writer workshops.

©2017 All rights reserved.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]