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  • Is It Still a Good Idea for Female Writers to Use Pseudonyms?
Is It Still a Good Idea for Female Writers to Use Pseudonyms?
Contributor
Written by
Martha Simons
February 2015
Contributor
Written by
Martha Simons
February 2015

Couple of years ago my friend was launching a commercial website dedicated to car industry. His idea was for this site to also have a number of exciting articles discussing the latest news of the world of cars, interesting and applicable in real life engineer inventions, etc. Due to the fact that I always had a great interest in this topic and had better writing skills than himself he offered me to write couple of high quality articles for the site. I was very excited to help him until he asked me to write under a pseudonym and use a male name. His argumentation was based on the topics I would be covering, and that it would be easier for his target audience of men to relate to another man’s ideas and judgments. It made me think a lot about whether he was right or not, and if there still were some limitations to female writing.  It is a well-known fact that women from the past centuries had to change their names in order to be published and accepted by the public. Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë used the names of Currer, Acton and Ellis Bell to publish their poetry, but that was long ago and the moral system of our society has changed since those times. I truly believe that the name you write under should never be an obstacle to you being published. Nevertheless, some of us keep using a nom de plume for their own reason.

The most recent case of using a pen name that received wide news coverage was the one regarding J.K. Rowling, a famous author of the “Harry Potter” series. She decided to use a pseudonym of Robert Galbraith to try herself out in a new literary genre. I guess that was a very smart move because relying on our own experience we can honestly say that we tend to have high expectations of the authors we are fond of and sometimes this feeling might give us a false impression of their work. Changing your name and inventing a new personality can take this pressure away and give that freedom of writing famous writers are deprived of. Agatha Christie, for example, wrote under the name of Mary Westmacott when she decided to try her hand in romantic fiction.

Another interesting fact about J.K. Rowling is that she uses not her full name, but only her initials that made her gender to be enigmatic at the beginning of her writing career. She says, it was done in order to be more appealing to the target audience of the genre and taken more seriously. It’s difficult to say now whether that was one of the reasons of her success or not…

Coming back to the story of me using a pseudonym, I offered my friend to settle on a compromise: I will also write some of the articles under my own name and we’ll compare the feedback of the readers after the site’s launch. And so we did. He was rather surprised by the outcome as his male audience didn’t care about the author at all, but was focused only on the content of each article. The pleasant part for me was that some of the readers left very positive feedback in the comments section saying how nice it is for a woman to have such deep knowledge of the topic.

I don’t deny the fact that there still might be some people steeping in prejudice, but I hope that all of the prejudices of the old world are passing away. There’s still a room for pseudonyms in our modern era and female authors are free to use them for whichever reason they might have. Hopefully, these reasons won’t be caused by some gender limitations or deceptive perceptions of our society, which had to be vanished long time ago.

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Comments
  • Ling Lee Hinkle

    That's great that you were able to write in both gender names and prove your point. It sounds like being a female auto expert and author was a bonus for you and your readers.

  • Martha Simons

    Dear Cate, thank you very much for your kind words. I'm glad that you find my story to be rather helpful)