Middlemarch is set to be published for the first time in nearly 150 years under George Eliot’s real name, Mary Ann Evans, alongside 24 other historical works by women whose handwriting has only been printed under their male pseudonyms.
Evans adopted the pen name of George Eliot in the mid-19th century, to ensure that his works were taken seriously. Middlemarch, originally published in eight parts in 1871-72, was never published under his real name. Evans said she was “determined to preserve my incognito, having observed that a pen name provides all the benefits without the disagreements of reputation,” while her partner George Lewes said that “the object of the he anonymity was to have the book judged on its own merits. , and not prejudged as being the work of a particular woman or woman ”.
Now, the work voted Greatest British Novel of All Time is finally coming out as Evans, as part of the Female Fiction Award’s Reclaim Her Name campaign and sponsor Baileys, to mark the award’s 25th anniversary.
Some of the books, like Middlemarch, are well known, including A Phantom Lover, a ghost story by Violet Paget, who wrote as Vernon Lee; and Indiana, a romance of Amantine Aurore Dupin, the 19th-century author better known as George Sand, who scandalized society by wearing male clothes and smoking cigars in public.
Others come to the fore after decades forgotten, like Keynotes, an 1893 feminist short story collection that includes open discussions of women’s sexuality. The stories were written by Mary Bright, who wrote under the name George Egerton, in 1893; she said of them: “I realized that in literature, everything had been done better by the man than the woman could hope to imitate. He still had a little plot to tell; the terra incognita of herself, as she knew herself to be, not as the man liked to imagine.
Frances Rollin Whipper published The Life of Martin R. Delaney in 1868 under the pseudonym Frank A Rollin. She was the first African American to publish a biography. Fatemeh Farahani published poems in 19th century Iran under the name Shahein Farahani. Ann Petry, who wrote as Arnold Petri, was the first African American woman to sell over a million copies of a book and joined the list with Marie of the Cabin Club, her first published short story, from 1939.
“When I was asked if my mother’s work could be included in such a worthy collection of books with other awesome writers, I was honored,” said Petry’s daughter, Liz Petry. “I am incredibly proud of my mother’s work and it excites me that her writing has been presented to a new audience through this collection. I know she would love to be a part of it because it is such an incredible source of conversation for such an important cause – my mom has always believed in a world with shared humanity and I think this project sums it up.
The Reclaim Her Name collection will be available to download as ebooks for free, said Baileys, who hopes the project will give authors “the visibility and credit they deserve,” and encourage “new and important conversations about ongoing challenges women face. in publishing and the many reasons authors use a pseudonym ”.
“It was about looking back at the women in whose footsteps we walk – how other women got their work printed or couldn’t get their work printed. It’s just such a happy idea, ”said novelist Kate Mosse, who founded the Women’s Award 25 years ago, following a male selection for the Booker Award.
Over 3000 pseudonymous writers were considered by a team of researchers commissioned by Baileys to be included in the collection. “They kept their names hidden for all kinds of different reasons,” Mosse said. “There is this idea of hiding the fact that you are a woman because it is not appropriate for women to be out there in the public sphere. But not too long ago, Malala Yousafzai was shot dead by the Taliban for daring to go to school. So there are obviously women writers who hide their identity for fear of persecution, either by male parents, but also by the state – they write works that would cause them trouble.
Mosse said the promotion was aimed at ensuring that “on the shelf women are visible, because if their identities are hidden, it’s like women don’t write any of these books, the past is a thing of the past. unbroken line of beards and every once in a while you get a woman. This collection only celebrates incredible women from the past who never really had their due as women.