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The Eagle's Cry

The Student News Site of Bethpage High School

The Eagle's Cry

The Student News Site of Bethpage High School

The Eagle's Cry

BHS Investigates: The Use of Pen Names


Ready to test your knowledge of famous authors?


I’m going to describe three well known authors; can you discover their commonality before the end? 


George Elliot was an English victorian novelist known for the depth of his characters and style of writing that had vivid descriptions of rural England. His most famous works include Middlemarch, The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, Adam Bede, and Daniel Deroda. Today, Middlemarch, released in 1871, has become known as the best British novel of all time, after BBC’s poll of book critics from all around the world. The novel is widely loved for its depiction of social classes and conflicts in the Victorian era.


S.E. Hinton began writing The Outsiders at just 16 years old and was published by the age of 18. Since its release in 1967, The Outsiders has sold over 15 million copies worldwide, is available in over 30 countries, and has become a common required reading novel in schools. The Outsiders is regarded as an extremely important piece of literature, as it calls attention to deep rooted issues within social classes and teaches lessons of maturity while readers are in their adolescence.


J.K. Rowling, best known as author of the bestselling book series of all time, Harry Potter. Although the author has had immense success, the career did not start out that way. After being denied by twelve different publishing companies, Rowling’s first novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was published in 1997 and was an immediate success among adults and children. With seven total installments, the Harry Potter series has reached an unimaginable number of readers, having sold over 500 million copies in 60 languages in 200 countries.


What do these three incredibly influential authors have in common?


They are all women. 


So what makes women feel the need to disguise their gender?


Mary Ann Evans published her works under the pseudonym of George Elliot to be free of preconceived notions regarding her gender; she feared that her works would not be respected if her identity was known.


Susan Eloise Hinton was advised by her publishers to publish her novels under the pen name of S.E. Hinton in order to mask her gender; publishers felt The Outsiders –which features male protagonists and gang violence— would not be respected if it was written by a woman.


Joanne Kathleen Rowling was urged to publish her works under the pen name J.K. Rowling. Publishers felt that since Harry Potter was a male protagonist, in order for the novel to appeal to all genders her identity as a woman must be disguised.


This is not an uncommon instance, thousands of women feel that they are regarded as inferior to their male colleagues, especially in the workplace, simply because of their sex. For example,—as of 2022 in the United States— women earned 84 cents for every dollar a man makes. 


So, this presents a question: How many potential literary classics has society discounted simply because they were written by women?


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About the Contributor
Nora Kerrigan
Nora Kerrigan, News Editor
Nora Kerrigan is a junior at Bethpage High School. This is her second year working on The Eagle’s Cry. She is part of the Bethpage gymnastics, spring track, and cross country teams, she is also captain of the marine fitness team. In her spare time she enjoys reading and hanging out with friends.  

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