February Classics Club Meme Question

Friday, February 21, 2014


Here’s the question for Classics Club members this month:
 
“Dead white guys” are all too often the focus when it comes to discussions of the Western Canon. We’d love to see members highlight classic works or authors that are overlooked in the canon that deserve recognition.”
 
This question immediately made me think of the incredible female authors who had to publish under male pseudonyms. They were just as talented as their male counterparts, but when they would submit a manuscript to the publisher they were often turned down because of their gender or if the work was published it was assumed to be a light romance because it was written by a woman.
 
George Eliot, the author of Silas Marner and Middlemarch, is actually Mary Anne Evans. Wuthering Heights’ author Emily Bronte published under the name Ellis Bell, while her sisters Charlotte Bronte (Jane Eyre, Villette) went by Currer Bell and Anne picked the moniker Acton. Louisa May Alcott chose the name A.M. Barnard when publishing her thrilling short stories. Jane Austen published most of her work anonymously.  
 
The Dead White Guys stereotype that is associated withe classic western canon is not incorrect, especially considering how many great and successful authors fit that description. But it’s important to realize there are hundreds of other authors out there with just as many wonderful books to their names.

5 comments:

Allie said...

I've always been intrigued by the fact that women have hidden who they are to get their work published. Even J.K. Rowling simplified her first name to be more "gender-neutral."

I wish that wasn't something that still had to be done in today's world.

abibliophilesstyle said...

I was going to make the same comment about J. K. Rowling. Wasn't it her publisher that suggested the initials?

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Allie - I thought of Rowling too! And then later the pen name she picked for The Cuckoo's Calling was male as well!

abibliophilesstyle - That's what I've heard.

Heather said...

I love the way you interpreted the question. It's very important to remember the females as well, all throughout history and despite nationality, color, etc, etc, etc.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Heather - Yes, there are some that most people don't even realize were women!