You've probably heard the quote before: "For most of history, 'anonymous' was a woman." And, while that's true, for a pretty big chunk of history, a number of the "male" authors on the market were also women. Even today, in our post-J.K. Rowling literary world, women still use their initials or just straight up male pseudonyms to avoid the lingering prejudice against female authors. So, because women are secretly behind everything good on this Earth, here are a few famous books you never realized were written by women.
Of course, things are better now than they used to be. Most of us have probably figured out that Jane Eyre was written by a woman, even though it was published under the name "Currer Bell." Being a woman no longer guarantees that your books won't sell. And the pen name "Robert Galbraith" isn't fooling anyone anymore (we know that's you, Jo).
But we still have a ways to go. Women are still being encouraged to go with male or gender ambiguous pen names. Especially when it comes to male dominated genres like science fiction, being a woman is often seen as a marketing liability rather than a normal human gender. Enough of that. Here are some kick ass books secretly written by women, to remind us all that good writers come in every gender:
1'Middlemarch' by George Eliot
George Eliot's first ever publication was the essay, "Silly Novels by Lady Novelists," criticizing the female writers of his day. Male authors and readers applauded Eliot's attitude towards the "fairer sex," and his novel Middlemarch became one of the most celebrated books of the 19th century. Of course, George Eliot was actually Mary Ann Evans, who eventually revealed her true identity (presumably while laughing at all the sexist authors she had trolled).
2'Indiana' by George Sand
"George" must have been a very convincing pseudonym in the 1800s, because French novelist Amantine Aurore Lucile Dupin wrote under the name "George Sand." Her first novel, Indiana, was an impassioned plea to change France's misogynistic marriage laws. Sand was one of the first female French authors to be read worldwide. Plus, she totally wore men's clothes and smoked tobacco and ignored the social construct of gender entirely.
3The 'In Death' Series by J.D. Robb
The bestselling In Death books are intense, thrilling crime novels, so obviously they must be written by a man named J.D. Robb. But it just so happens that J.D. Robb also goes by Nora Roberts, best known for her many romance novels. Because, shockingly, it seems like some women can enjoy kissing and gritty murder mysteries.
4'City of Dark Magic' by Magnus Flyte
City of Dark Magic is a wildly popular fantasy novel, equal parts rom-com and paranormal mystery, written by the enigmatic Magnus Flyte. Except that Magnus Flyte is not one but two women. Meg Howrey and Christina Lynch collaborate on the City of Dark Magic series under Flyte's name, working together to create an intricately plotted novel starring a female grad student.
5'Goosebumps' by R.L. Stine
OK, so R.L. Stine did write most of the Goosebumps books himself, with some occasional help from (very spooky) ghost writers. But, because there was such high demand for Stine's kid-friendly horror stories, he often collaborated with his wife, Jane Waldhorn, for rewrites. So thanks for all the nightmares, Jane.
6'Her Smoke Rose Up Forever' by James Tiptree Jr.
Science Fiction hall of famer James Tiptree Jr. is one of the sci-fi greats—and also the pen name of Alice Bradley Sheldon. Her sci-fi short stories rocked the genre, and most of her many fans and colleagues believed that she was a man for most of her career. Sheldon actually had a pretty legit reason to use a false identity, though: she was a former intelligence officer with the CIA. She switched to the pen name Raccoona Sheldon later in life.
7'Out of Africa' by Isak Dinesen
Karen Blixen used several pen names over the course of her writing career, but her most well known was Isak Dinesen, author of Out of Africa. Blixen came from a very well-known Danish family, so she wanted to hide her identity—even though Out of Africa is actually an account of Blixen's own experiences on a coffee plantation in Kenya.
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