Using a “Nom de Plume” or a pen name is still a common practice in modern times. There are some writers who simply prefer another name to their own, while others may choose to do so for privacy reasons. However, it is important to note that in the past a female writer would have found that using a male pen name would have been vital in order to achieve literary success.
Mary Ann Evans (Cross) despite her immense talent failed to publish any novels but George Eliot is the well known author of seven novels. While it was a fact that by the late 1850’s some female authors were being published under their own names Mary Ann Evans still chose to use a pen name. This was mainly because she was determined to avoid the stereotype that women were primarily interested in writing lighthearted romance novels.
It make one consider that if her novels which bear male names such as Adam Bede, Silas Marner, or Daniel Deronda would be diminished in any way if they were published using her female birth name? Possibly, but the point is Mary Ann Evans was convinced that by becoming George Eliot she could be taken seriously as a writer.
Another notable detail about the writing career of Mary Ann Evans was the fact that she was born in 1819, but did not pursue her literary inclinations until 1849 after the death of her father. Considering that her own father did not support her writing career in his lifetime, should we be surprised that she felt no other man would do so without the aid of a pen name?
Nevertheless, whether today’s modern writers choose to use a pen name or not all can emulate the legacy of of Mary Ann Evans by letting their writing skills do the talking. Because strong, sincere writing transcends all obstacles real or imagined. Hopefully going forward future writers can use a “Nom de Plume” not as a shield but as yet another means of expression for a talented creative soul!
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