Female Authors Who Wrote Under Male Pseudonyms



Charlotte Brontë once wrote: “We did not like to declare ourselves women, because—without at the time suspecting that our mode of writing and thinking was not what is called ‘feminine’—we had a vague impression that authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice.” This was just one of the many tactics used by female authors back then to find a loophole through the wall that bricked them and confined them to their own houses called patriarchy; at least this tactic was more effective than letting their author husbands take credit for all the work they did, which most of the time happened against the women’s wishes, just like what happened to Zelda Fitzgerald.


So, here are a few famous and iconic female authors who used male pen names for their works in order to avoid the prejudice that came with patriarchy at the time.

  1. The Brontë Sisters, a.k.a the Bell Brothers

Now considered among the greatest authors of all time, the Brontë sisters began their writing career under the male pseudonyms; Currer, Elis, and Acton Bell. At the time, this decision was made due to the fact that the subjects they were writing about were considered depraved and immoral. Themes such as controversial romances and violence were among many subjects the sisters would put in their works—subjects that weren’t associated with femininity at the time, and breaking gender norms was never an option back then, lest you suffer the punishment given by society. Given that Emily’s Wuthering Heights received comments about it being ‘brutal’ and ‘wicked’, the reactions received would have been far more extreme had it been known a woman was behind those words.

  1. Mary Ann Evans, a.k.a George Eliot

The name George Eliot has now become one of the most important figures among 19th-century English novelists, along with other great authors such as Charles Dickens, who greatly admired the works of Eliot, and in fact, was among the few who already suspected the truth behind this male pen name. When Mary Ann Evans began her writing career, she feared that no publishing industry nor audience would take her seriously as a woman. Another factor that played into this decision was also her relationship with George Lewes, a married man with whom she had a romantic relationship. The news itself was already too shocking, and Mary Ann did not want to draw more attention to herself. With this, she borrowed her partner’s first name and invented a catchy surname for herself.

  1. Louisa May Alcott, a.k.a A.M. Barnard

Although her best-known work, Little Women, was published under her own name, Louisa also often used the pen name A.M Barnard to write jaw-dropping gothic thrillers full of subjects that were deemed ‘unladylike’ and would never be accepted among society back then if they were to be associated with a woman. A Long Fatal Love Chase follows the story of a woman called Rose who leaves her violent and mentally unstable husband and flees to another city, while Behind a Mask contains themes of manipulation and social class. This male pseudonym of hers was discovered around the 1940s by Madeleine B. Stern and Leona Rostenberg.

  1. Amantine Aurore Lucile Dupin, a.k.a George Sand “What a brave man she was, and what a good woman,” said the Russian novelist and feminist Ivan Turgenev about Sand. Although she was known for her love affairs and has had numerous lovers since divorcing her husband and moving to Paris along with her two children (including the iconic virtuoso Polish pianist and composer Frédéric Chopin), she was also known as a weaver of love tales and social class that critiqued the social norms she lived with. As Les Misérables author Victor Hugo once said: “George Sand cannot determine whether she is male or female, but it is not my place to decide whether she is my sister or my brother.”

Writer: Manohara Diwasasri
Editor: Elisabeth Grisella S