Posted in writing

To name or not to name? written under pseudonyms

agatha-christie-26-cool-hd-wallpaperDoes a male name give an advantage in terms of acceptability and readership? History shows that it does make a difference. Many famous writers used pseudonyms. Women writers used male names in a society that discriminates women writers. Even today this advantage still shows. Here are some examples.

E. Annie Proulx, born August 22, 1935,-E is for Edna, which she never uses, and Proulx rhymes with true. She earned two degrees in history, lived in New York City and the Far East and 13 different towns in Vermont, founded a small-town newspaper “The Vershire Behind the Times”drifted through out-of-the-way places in her pickup truck, learned fly fishing, fiddling, partridge hunting and how to build a house. Once in a while, she wrote a short story. She was past 50 when she found out that what she had become was a novelist. Starting as a journalist, her first published work of fiction is thought to be “The Customs Lounge”, a science fiction story published in the September 1963 issue of If, under the byline “E.A.Proulx”. She pursued, but did not complete, a Ph.D. In 1999, Concordia awarded her an honorary doctorate.
Quote from Proulx
“When I first started writing stories and trying to place them in the outdoor magazines, they insisted that it be E. A. Proulx so the guys who read these magazines wouldn’t think it was a woman writing them. Sexist editors. The ones who suggested it were from a small Vermont publication, and I got back this awful letter, full of bad spelling and clumsy syntax, suggesting that I should change my name to initials. Very tiresome. I went along with it, and then it became E. Annie, and then finally I got sick of writing E so it just got dropped.”

Joanne Rowling (J.K. Rowling) …
The Brontë Sisters (Ellis, Acton, and Currer Bell) …
Alice Bradley Sheldon (James Tiptree, Jr.) …
Nora Roberts (J.D. Robb) …
Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot) …
Louisa May Alcott (A.M. …
Ann Rule (Andy Stack)

Louisa May Alcott: Prominent 19th century writer Louisa May Alcott began her career under the male pen name A. M. Barnard. While her most famous work, Little Women, was published under her real name, she gained considerable notoriety as Barnard in the mid 1860s.

Nelle Harper Lee: Writing under the abbreviated name Harper Lee, Lee’s pen name does not necessarily disguise her identity, but does make her authorship fairly androgynous. Harper Lee became wildly famous for her novel To Kill a Mockingbird. This novel is on every high school reading list in the United States and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize soon after its publication.

Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin: Born in Paris in 1804, Dupin is known in history almost solely by her male pseudonym George Sand. Her first novel Indiana was published in 1832 under this pen name as well as every subsequent publication that followed.

Charlotte Bronte: As the author of Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte is one of the most celebrated female novelists in all of history. Many, however, do not realize that this quintessential English novel was originally written under a male pen name. Charlotte Bronte published her works under the name Currer Bell.

Emily Bronte: Publishing under the male pen name Ellis Bell, Emily Bronte is most widely known for her only novel Wuthering Heights. She and her two sisters chose to write under masculine pseudonyms to deter any bias on the basis of their gender.

On the other hand, Agatha Christie still ranks number two in the list of best selling fiction authors. (William Shakespeare ranks number one.) Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, DBE (née Miller; 15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976) was an English crime novelist, short story writer and playwright. The Guinness Book of World Records lists Christie as the best-selling novelist of all time. Her novels have sold roughly 2 billion copies, and her estate claims that her works come third in the rankings of the world’s most-widely published books,[3] behind only Shakespeare’s works and the Bible. According to Index Translationum, she remains the most-translated individual author – having been translated into at least 103 languages. “And Then There Were None” is Christie’s best-selling novel, with 100 million sales to date, making it the world’s best-selling mystery ever, and one of the best-selling books of all time. Christie’s stage play The Mousetrap holds the record for the longest initial run: it opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in the West End on 25 November 1952 and as of 2015 is still running after more than 25,000 performances.

A male name may get some authors somewhere, but contents do matter.

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