“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.”
Books are known to influence readers, empower women and spread awareness. Some books impart courage into the readers and one such book was Pride and Prejudice where the protagonist Elizabeth Bennett is a strong woman who knows what she wants.
She was an empowered woman and became an inspiration for many in the society in that era when they were discouraged and bounded.
Neither were they accepted as writers.
History of literature shows how women have preserved their pride and saved themselves from prejudice using pen names.
In early centuries, Patriarchal society accepted the efforts of men and not women and that is when pseudonyms came into being. Literature appeared to be male dominant with all the male authors writing best sellers.
In 19th century when women wrote books, they did not use their real name as an author and, that is when the pseudonyms came into being.
In the year 1811, ‘A lady’ wrote classics like Emma, Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility.
In 1846, Currer Bell, Ellis Bell and Acton Bell wrote Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Later, when the books became bestseller and authors went to the publisher, a great revelation took place.
It was Charlotte (Currer), Emily (Ellis) and Anne (Acton) Bronte (Bell). Bronte sisters used their masculine pen names to save themselves from the prejudice.
If you have read George Eliot’s Middlemarch then you must know that this book was written by Mary Ann Evans, a woman and not a man, in the year 1856.
Author of Valentine and Indiana, George Sand was Amantine-Lucile-Aurora-Dudevant who used a pseudonym around the year 1832.
Louisa May Alcott wrote the classic Little Women and published it with her real name but her other short stories came out with the name A.M Barnard.
In the 19th century, the pseudonyms were masculine but towards the beginning of 20th century women started to use ambiguous initials to avoid the prejudice but not hide behind masculine identity.
Mary Poppins and sequels written by PL Travers was an attempt by Pamela Lyndon Travers in 1934 to not let the readers know the gender of the author.
Similarly, Nora Roberts penned In Death crime series as J.D Robb.
Harry Potter series was credited to JK Rowling who put ‘K’ just to add ambiguity to her name Joanna Rowling. Later, she credited this ‘K’ to her grandmother’s name Kathleen.
Robert Galbraith, author of the bestsellers like The Cockoo Calling, The Silkworm and Career of Evil is a pseudonym and has been originally written by JK Rowling.
EL James famous for her Fifty Shades series is Erika Leonard who wrote the book in 2011 and chose to use initials. From pseudonyms to ambiguous initials, women have come a long way and have remarkably contributed to the literature.