Reclaim Her Name

It’s usually never too late to say her name. But in this instance, is it right?


Photo via The Guardian

Photo via The Guardian



For the very first time in history, Middlemarch will be published under George Eliot’s real name. Do you know what it is? Neither did I, until I was reminded by it via this article in The Guardian. It’s Mary Ann Evans.

25 historic books are being republished as part of the ‘Reclaim Her Name’ series for the Women’s prize for fiction, sponsored by none other than Baileys Irish Cream. On the surface, this looks like a good move (the project, not the sponsoring by an Irish whiskey. That’s still weird as far as I’m concerned. But, I guess Hemingway did say ‘write drunk, edit sober’.).

Indeed, there were instances when a woman would use a male name to negate the prejudice that would come with being a female writer. Charlotte Bronte herself once said: ‘Authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice; we had noticed how critics sometimes use for their chastisement the weapon of personality’.

However, some pundits are saying that we should hold fire on the initiative’s applause just yet.

Because, the sweeping suggestion to be gleaned from the it is that no woman could publish under their birth names in the 18th and 19th centuries. This simply wasn’t the case. Yes, in some countries or cultures at the time, it was illegal to be a female writer. However, each of these writers had their own reasons for writing under a pseudonym. The reasons for these pseudonyms encased in this collection are nuanced — including sexuality, to list just one example.

To read further on the controversy, check this article out at Lithub.


It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.

— George Eliot / Mary Ann Evans, MIddlemarch

The Mercies
A colourful, curated blend of books, wine and creativity, with a soft spot for Australian work and female-centric narratives.

Fable and Fizz would like to acknowledge the Whadjuck Noongar people as the traditional owners and continual custodians on the lands and waters this content is primarily written on. I pay respects to their Elders — past and present. This always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land.
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