Women Authors Who Used Male Pen Names To Get Sold Will Be Reprinted Under Real Names

The women behind the names “George Eliot,” “Vernon Lee,” and “George Fleming” will have their real names reprinted on their novels as part of a new campaign.

25 novels have been reprinted with the real names of the women authors who wrote them. | Women's Prize For Fiction
25 novels have been reprinted with the real names of the women authors who wrote them. | Women's Prize For Fiction

Women authors who hid their identities behind male pen names in order to get published are having their novels reprinted with their real names. 

25 works of literature will be republished as part of the “Reclaim Her Name” campaign—all written by women who used pen names such as George Eliot and Vernon Lee, to have their works taken seriously. 

The Irish liqueur company Bailey’s, in collaboration with the Women’s Prize for Fiction, is reprinting the books as part of the award's 25th anniversary, adding that they’re “finally giving female writers the credit they deserve.” Digital versions of the novels will be free to download as part of a sponsorship with Bailey’s, while physical copies will be donated to libraries in the UK. 

One of the most prominent authors on the list is Mary Ann Evans, who went by George Eliot and wrote “Middlemarch”—voted the best British novel of all time— along with 6 other books. The successful 19th century novelist never revealed her literary identity.  Another author, Ann Petry, who went by the name Arnold Petri, was the first Black woman to sell more than 1 million copies of a book for her 1946 novel “The Street.” 

Other prominent novelists include Edith Cooper and Katherine Bradley, who went by the name Michael Field; Mary Bright, who went by George Egerton; and Julia Fletcher, who went by George Fleming. 

View the full collection here.

Sexism & Racism Remain Prominent In Publishing

Sexism and racism in the book publishing world continued into the 20th and 21st centuries, as women and people of color continue to experience trouble being taken seriously by publishers. One woman author, Catherine Nichols, wrote an essay for Jezebel in 2015 saying she had more success with publishers when using a male pseudonym than her own. Nichols even said the notes she received on her book were vastly different and that she was more praised for her writing when publishers thought she was a man. 

Racism in publishing is another issue that remains very present in 2020—with one survey revealing that only about 5% of publishing staff and agents are Black.