Female writers throughout history have used male or ambiguous pen names to ensure that their work is recognized. While this was a more prevalent choice in the late-1800s, it's still not unheard of today. Joanne "J.K." Rowling wrote The Cuckoo's Calling as Robert Galbraith, and Nora Roberts writes her mystery novels under the gender-neutral pen name J.D. Robb.
Think this is totally unnecessary? Although The New York Times reviewed as many books written by women last year as they did books written by men, a number of other major publications contribute to gender disparity in the literary community by reviewing up to three times more men than women.
The Victorian era in particular saw slews of women writing under male pen names, including the Brontë Sisters, who wrote as Acton, Currer and Ellis Bell, and, of course, Mary Ann Evans, who wrote as George Eliot. Of her pseudonym, Charlotte Brontë said: "we did not like to declare ourselves women because – without at that time suspecting that our mode of writing and thinking was not what is called 'feminine' – we had a vague impression that authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice."
Here's to hoping that gender parity in the book world can eventually allow female authors in every genre to get the recognition they deserve while writing under their own names. In the meantime, find out what your Victorian pen name would be:Interactive by Ilana Sufrin and Wenting Zhang
Create Your Own
Victorian Pen Name
[CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article listed Charlotte Brontë's pen name as "Culler Bell" rather than "Currer Bell."]