Pen names have many benefits like anonymity or crafting a public person or alter ego. But women have used pen names in other ways as well, such as being able to publish without the bias around their gender or marketing to a male audience. Today, we are going to talk about a few of the many female authors who wrote under male pen names.
George Sand – Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin
Amantine Lucila Aurore Dupin was born in 1804 and became one of the most celebrated novelists in 19th century France under the pen name George Sand. She was a “pioneering feminist” who regularly participated in activities that were considered more appropriate for men at the time.
The first book she published was a romantic classic, Indiana, in which a noblewoman traveled from colonial Africa to France to find love. You can get the book here.
George Eliot – Mary Ann Evans
Mary Ann Evans is another European female author from the 19th century who published under a male pen name. She was known for her characters’ psychological depth and her descriptions of the life of those who lived in rural England.
In 1858, she published her first book, Adam Bede, under the pseudonym George Eliot, which then proceeded to go through eight printings in the first year.
Some quotes from the book include:
“Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.”
– George Eliot, Adam Bede
“I’m not denyin’ the women are foolish: God Almighty made ’em to match the men.”
– George Eliot, Adam Bede
Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell – the Brontë Sisters
These sisters were the authors of several novels. Anne (Acton Bell) published Anges Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Emily (Ellis Bell) wrote Wuthering Heights. And Charlotte (Currer Bell) published Jane Eyre.
The sisters began writing at an early age, and their novels became classics. Would they have if they had published under their real names? We just don’t know.
More Recent Female Authors who Wrote Under Male Pen Names
Not all women who published under male pseudonyms were from the 19th century. More recently, authors such as J. K. Rowling and J.D. Robb, also used male pen names.
J.K. Rowling – Robert Galbraith – Joanne Rowling
Most everyone knows who J.K. Rowling is, unless you lived the last decade or so under a rock, but her gender neutral pen name does help her market her books to male audiences.
But did you know that she writes under another name?
Robert Galbraith is Joanne Rowling’s pen name for her crime fiction series, the Cormoran Strike Novels. This allowed her to break away from her fame as J. K. Rowling and write her new novels without expectation.
J.D. Robb – Nora Roberts
Nora Roberts has published well over 200 romance novels and was inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. However, when she decided she wanted to write her futuristic crime thriller series, she published under the name J. D. Robb. Her pseudonym, J.D. Robb gave Nora Roberts the opportunity to reach a new, more male, audience.
Although there are many reasons for writing under a pseudonym, these female authors who wrote under male pen names typically did it to write and publish without expectation — however you want to interpret that. As a strategic communicator, I find it incredibly interesting how the name you use to publish, and not just the title of your book, can have such an impact on your sales.
For more information about book marketing techniques, read our blog post: Book Marketing 101: Create Visibility for Your Book with these 5 Tips.