A Romance King (and Queen)
Robert Vaughan, An Author with Many Names
Robert Vaughan isn’t a household name as a romance writer. You might be surprised to learn that in the 20th century he sold tens of millions of books. However, as he used dozens of pseudonyms, many readers do not know who he is.
His pen names include Paula Fairman, K.C. McKenna, Paula Moore, Fancy DeWitt, Patricia Matthews, Jonathon Scofield, Lee Davis Willoughby, Kit Dalton, and Sara Luck.
Vaughan has written more than 300 to 400 books using 30 to 40 aliases.
He has penned various genres of fiction, including romance, action-adventure, military, and westerns.
Early Life and Military Career
Robert Vaughan was born in 1937 in Morley, Missouri, and raised in Sikeston, Missouri. His father served in the military. Robert followed in his father’s tracks in the late 1950s, entering Army Aviation.
He served a distinguished career in the US Army as a soldier for 23 years. He had tours in Korea and Germany and three combat tours in Vietnam.
Vaughan would participate in the atmospheric nuclear bomb tests in 1957.
He engaged in the civil-rights deployment of James Meredith’s enrollment at the University of Mississippi. Vaughan was stationed to Homestead AFB as part of the potential invasion force during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
As a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, Vaughan received the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart, The Bronze Star, the Air Medal, and other medals.
During his military career, his creative talents came to the forefront. Vaughan wrote training manuals for the US Army and was the recipient of the Most Outstanding Military Writer six times.
A Journeyman Author Begins His Travels
Vaughan sold his first book when he was 19. It was a story of the US Army along the DMZ in Korea.
After Vaughan was discharged from the Army, he began his prolific writing career in earnest. He worked in almost every genre.
Sometimes he would publish under his real name, write under a pseudonym, or he would ghostwrite for other authors.
Paula Fairman & Paula Moore
Under various pen names, including “Paula Moore” and “Paula Fairman,” Vaughan wrote romance novels that were extremely popular at the time they were written.
In 1977 Paula Fairman achieved massive sales with two bodice rippers, Forbidden Destiny and In Savage Splendor.
The books sold millions of copies for Pinnacle, who published many successful historical romances in the 1970s.
When Paul Fairman–the real Paula–passed away late that year, he left behind one unfinished manuscript. Robert Vaughan stepped in to continue writing as Paula Fairman.
He wrote a dozen more Paula Fairman bestsellers from 1978 to 1991.
Some of those books would be republished in the 21st century under the name Fancy Dewitt.
As Paula Moore, Vaughan also authored historical, contemporary, and Gothic romances.
Patricia Matthews was another best-selling Pinnacle author. The publisher even labeled her as “America’s First Lady of Historical Romance.” Matthews earned many awards, and her books sold millions of copies.
Patricia Matthews was–ostensibly–the working name of the husband and wife team, Patricia Klein Ernst Brisco Matthews & Clayton Matthews. Patricia also wrote under the pseudonyms of P.A. Brisco, Patty Brisco, Pat A. Brisco, Pat Brisco, Laura Wylie, and Denise Matthews with a friend.
Clayton passed away in 2004, and Patricia followed him in 2006.
“I wrote [them] as Patricia Matthews, made number one on the list. In 1981, I sold 6 million books. In my lifetime, I have probably sold 40 million books, but nobody knows who I am.ROBERT VAUGHAN
All the Work, But Little Credit
Vaughan has been candid about being the creator of two dozen bestselling romances from the 1970s into the 1990s, including the aforementioned Matthews novels.
“[T]wenty-three romance novels, writing as Paula Moore, Paula Fairman, and Patricia Matthews, total sales of over fifteen million copies. Two of these romance novels, Love’s Bold Journey and Love’s Sweet Agony, were number one on the NYT and PW bestseller lists.”ROBERT VAUGHAN
As a journeyman ghostwriter, Vaughan never owned the rights to those names. As a result, he never received his due acclaim for his success.
Other Works of Fiction by Robert Vaughan
Among his notable non-romance books are: Survival: A Novel of The Donner Party; Brandywine’s War; The Valkyrie Mandate; The Power and the Pride; Gravedancer; When Honor Dies; and The Broken Covenant.
Vaughan was very proud of his work for the novelization of the television miniseries, Andersonville.
He won the 1977 Porgie Award (Best Paperback Original) for The Power and the Pride.
He and his wife, Ruth, collaborate on their writing projects. Of course, they write romance!
“My wife Ruth and I are co-writing romance novels as Sara Luck.
“She’s actually quite good at it, and I’m proud of her. And though the Sara Luck books don’t have my name, Ruth and I at least own the name.”ROBERT VAUGHAN
In the 2010s, Robert and Ruth co-wrote nine novels together.
Vaughan enjoys classical music and loves football, particularly college football. He also enjoys cooking and public speaking and will “accept invitations at the drop of a hat.”
He and his wife split their time living on the Alabama coast, residing in places all over the country, such as Oregon, Wyoming, and Chicago.
For many years Robert Vaughan taught the writing craft to many aspiring authors.
Although Vaughan has retired from the official speaking circuit, he is still active today.
A Pulitzer Prize nominee, Vaughan has won many prestigious writing awards. They include the Western Writers of America Spur Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award from Golden Triangle Writers Club, the Best Novel of the Vietnam War from Canadian University Symposium, and the Porgie Award from West Coast Books.
He was named the Best Military Writer of the Year by Army Aviation Digest for six consecutive years. Vaughan was an on-air Television personality in Portsmouth, VA, and Phoenix, AZ. In addition, he has been a national military consultant for FOX NEWS and CNN.
Robert Vaughan was inducted into the Writers’ Hall of Fame in 1998. His memoir, Random Thoughts of an Old Writer, was released in 2021 by Wolfpack Publishing.
Robert Vaughan Covers
Are you surprised to learn how prolific and successful a romance writer Robert Vaughan was? Have you read any Robert Vaughan romances?
As always, please drop a comment, and let’s talk romance!
- Donadees Robert Vaughan Author’s Page
- James Reasoner: Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp FBI Detective
- James Reasoner: Saturday Morning Western Pulp Revisited
- Library of Congress
- Western Fictioneers
- Wikipedia: Robert_Vaughan
- Paperbackswap: Robert-Vaughan
- Lee Goldberg: Robert Vaughan
- Esquire: Men Reading Romance Novels
- LA Times: Robert Vaughan
- Romance History: Tom Huff
- Romance History: David Wind
- Statista: Adult Fiction Unit Sales
- Tom Rizzo: Robert Vaughan’s “Novel” Approach to History