Name change: Chris to Augusten

Author Augusten X. Burroughs
Augusten X. Burroughs

Memoirist Augusten Xon Burroughs, best known for his 2002 book Running with Scissors, was born in 1965 with the name Christopher Richter Robison.

Why did he change his name?

Here’s what he told the New York Times in 2009:

Mr. Burroughs, who skipped college and most of high school, but did spend nine months at the Control Data Institute, he said, quoting its jingle — “Train for tomorrow’s future today!” — is something of a tech geek. Born Christopher Robison, he changed his name on his 18th birthday to Augusten Xon Burroughs, deriving his three new names thusly: Burroughs was once a manufacturer of mainframe computers; “xon” was computer-speak for “in a state of accepting input”; and “Augusten just sounded cool and modern,” he said.

A few years later, he described his choices in more detail in the book This Is How (2012):

Ending my life didn’t mean I had to die.

It meant I could change my name from Chris to something more alphabet-dominant and with numerous syllables, not just the measly one. Something with the subtle sheen of celebrity to it.


As far as last names were concerned, I could toss my father’s creaky old rundown Robison right into the trash pit. I could pick myself a brand-new last name.

Come to think of it, was there any reason whatsoever I could not name myself after the legendary Burroughs Series E 1400 Electronic Computing/Accounting Machine with magnetic striped ledger?

Here’s the Burroughs E 1400, which was released in 1966 — right around the time Burroughs was born, interestingly.


Image: Adapted from Burroughs in New York City, 2007 by David Shankbone under CC BY-SA 3.0.

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