Readersforum's Blog

December 13, 2012

Why Women Writers Still Take Men’s Names

Isak Dinesen aka Karen Blixen,author, "Out of Africa" (1937). Ms. Blixen said she chose the name Isak because it means "he who laughs" in Hebrew. Her maiden name, Dinesen, means the same thing in Danish.

Isak Dinesen aka Karen Blixen,author, “Out of Africa” (1937). Ms. Blixen said she chose the name Isak because it means “he who laughs” in Hebrew. Her maiden name, Dinesen, means the same thing in Danish.

By STEFANIE COHEN

In ‘City of Dark Magic,” a new fantasy novel about a Beethoven scholar and a murder mystery in Prague, no one is quite who they seem to be.

Neither, it turns out, is the author, Magnus Flyte, a supposed international man of mystery, who is actually a pseudonym for the book’s authors, Christina Lynch and Meg Howrey.

Ms. Lynch and Ms. Howrey decided to use a male pseudonym for their first thriller partly because they read studies saying that while women would buy books by either sex, men preferred books by men, says Ms. Lynch. They didn’t want to risk losing a single reader. “Why would we want to exclude anyone?” says Ms. Lynch.

The Brontë sisters published their 19th-century masterpieces as the Bell brothers, because, Charlotte Brontë wrote, “we had a vague impression that authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice.” More than 150 years later, women are still facing the same “prejudice” in some sectors of the publishing industry.

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