Elizabeth: The Woman Behind the Name

A week or so ago, the Women’s Prize for Fiction and prize sponsor Baileys launched the Reclaim Her Name campaign to mark the 25th anniversary of the award.  As part of the campaign, twenty-five works, written by women but initially published under male pseudonyms, were re-released under the writer’s real names.

One of the works in the set is Middlemarch, by Mary Ann Evans, who adopted the pen name of George Eliot in the mid-19th century, in order to ensure her works were taken seriously.  Evans is quoted as having said she was

“resolute in preserving my incognito, having observed that a nom de plume secures all the advantages without the disagreeables of reputation”

Her partner George Lewes added that

“the object of anonymity was to get the book judged on its own merits, and not prejudged as the work of a woman, or of a particular woman”.

The books in the Reclaim Her Name collection are available to download as ebooks for free (in case you are looking for something to add to your reading list).

According to the Guardian article discussing the collection, the promotion was intended celebrate some amazing women of the past who have never quite had their due as women. Continue reading