Throughout the course of history, many female writers have used male pseudonyms or gender-ambiguous pen names for their work to be published or taken seriously, including iconic writers like the Brontë Sisters and Louisa May Alcott. Now, the Women’s Prize for Fiction has just marked its 25th anniversary by publishing 25 literary works by female authors with their real names on the cover for the very first time.
The 'Reclaim Her Name' collection, in collaboration with Bailey's, features books such as Middlemarch, written by Mary Ann Evans under the pen name George Eliot, with the initiative looking "to honour their achievements and give them the credit they deserve."
Evans' novel, published in eight parts in 1871-72, has never been released under her real name but has been voted the best British novel of all time. Other works include Marie of the Cabin Club by Ann Petry (Arnolda Petri), who became the first African American woman to sell over 1 million copies.
“I think there’s still a sense that men’s writing is universal, and women’s writing is for women," Kate Mosse, co-founder of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, said. "In countries where women were not even allowed to read or write, let alone publish, obviously, you simply couldn’t possibly publish as a woman, it was an illegal act.
"Reasons range from straightforward discrimination or prejudices to more modern cases, just simply wanting to be less visible as a woman or be more anonymous. It’s very important that any writer has the right to publish as they see fit.”
The full collection of books are free to download as eBooks so as many people as possible can have access to the awe-inspiring works, with physical box sets being donated to selected libraries.
The full list of 25 books is:
- Middlemarch by Mary Ann Evans (pseudonym George Eliot)
- Marie of the Cabin Club by Ann Petry (Arnold Petri)
- Indiana by Amantine Aurore Dupin (George Sand)
- A Phantom Lover by Violet Paget (Vernon Lee)
- The Life of Martin R. Delany by Frances Rollin Whipper (Frank A. Rollin)
- Keynotes by Mary Bright (George Egerton)
- Takekurabe ("Growing Up") by Natsu Higuchi (Ichiyō Higuchi)
- Garden of Kama by Violet Nicolson (Laurence Hope)
- How White Men Assist In Smuggling… by Edith Maude Eaton (Mahlon T. Wing)
- Attila, My Attila! By Edith Cooper & Katherine Bradley (Michael Field)
- Ye Game and Playe of Chesse by Alice Dunbar Nelson (Monroe Wright)
- Painted Clay by Doris Boake Kerr (Capel Boake)
- For Our Country by Fatemeh Soltan Khanum Farahani (Shahein Farahani)
- Iras: A Mystery by Henrietta Everett (Theo Douglas)
- The History of Sir Richard Calmady by Mary Kingsley (Lucas Malet)
- Atla- Story of a Lost Island by Ann Smith (J Gregory Smith)
- Twilight by Julia Frankau (Frank Danby)
- The Silence Of Dean Maitland by Mary Tuttiett (Maxwell Gray)
- The Head Of Medusa by Julia Constance Fletcher (George Fleming)
- Some Emotions and a Moral by Pearl Richards (John Oliver Hobbes)
- Cecilia De Noël by Mary Hawker (Lanoe Falconer)
- Echoes from Mist-land by Aubertine Woodward Moore (Auber Forestier)
- Valerie Aylmer by Frances Tiernan (Christian Reid)
- A Diplomat's Diary by Julia Cruger (Julien Gordon)
- The Roadmender by Margaret Fairless Barber (Michael Fairless)
The books are available for free download here.