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Works of 25 female novelists who used to write with male pseudonyms, including Vctorian-era Mary Ann Evans known as George Eliot, will be re-published using their real names.
Under the project “Reclaim Her Name” by the Women’s Prize for Fiction in celebration of the award’s 25th anniversary, pseudonymous authors include George Sand, Mary Bright known as George Egerton, Fatemeh Farahani, known as Shahein Farahani, and Julia Constance Fletcher known as George Fleming.
The chosen novels span genres, from science fiction to horror, and their authors are just as diverse, hailing from countries including Japan, France and Iran.
The 25 novels are being offered as e-books, which are free to download via the prize’s sponsor, Baileys. Physical box sets of the republished titles will also be donated to libraries across the UK.
Evans was the literary force behind the great novels, “Middlemarch” but for much of her life known by George Eliot, which she adopted to conceal her gender at a time when women were excluded from intellectual circles.
Her secret identity became a source of widespread speculation in Victorian England after several of her stories, published under the George Eliot pen name, gained popularity.
Evans longed to write back and come clean, lamenting to her publisher that “the iron mask of my incognito seems quite painful”. The following year, people began misattributing her work to various individuals and the secret began leaking from her inner circle, leading the author to reluctantly reveal her identity.
Other novels chosen include “Marie of the Cabin Club” by Ann Petry, the first African American woman to sell more than a million copies of a book, under the pseudonym Arnold Petri.
Also featured is “Indiana”, the work of Amantine Aurore Dupin, known as George Sand, one of 19th-century boldest European writers. She wore men’s clothing, smoked tobacco in public and was rumored to have female lovers.