Annotated Bibliography: It’s a Man’s World…Or Is It? (Pseudonyms)

Cohen, Stephanie. “Why women writers still take men’s names.” Wall Street Journal Asia (2012): W.4. ProQuest. Web. 21 Oct. 2015. <>

  • Cohen explains in her article how pseudonyms can help authors gain a larger audience, with an emphasis on female writers seeking a wider male audience, because men “tend to favour male authors, according to several studies” (2012). Rather than stressing the struggles of gender bias from a pessimistic position, Cohen incorporates a realistic approach to the benefits of writers employing pseudonyms today who are seeking popularity in popular genres.

Dugdale, John. “Is the pseudonym going out of style? It’s two years since JK Rowling’s ‘Robert Galbraith’ revelation, yet the only literary disguise of late has been Erika Leonard masquerading as EL James. Could the nom de plume be a thing of the past?” The Guardian (2015). Academic OneFile. Web. 21 Oct. 2015. <>

  • Dugdale’s article argues that pseudonyms are no longer relevant today, contradicting other pieces by female writers I encountered, disregarding the still-present state of gender bias. He implies that “fear” controls the use of pseudonyms, instead of the pseudonym aiding in centralizing content as the main importance, which becomes more significant because he is not as exposed to gender bias as a male writer.

Easely, Alexis. Women Writers and Victorian Print Media, 1830-70. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004. Print.

  • Focusing on Easley’s chapter on George Eliot, she examines Eliot’s writings through the scope of the flawed system of “critical establishment” (119) in its methods of reading women’s writing. She suggests that Eliot established success “as a cultured, rather than feminine, woman writing” (147), interestingly turning the focus away from gender and and towards the cultured self.

Jaffe, J. Michael, et al. “Gender Identification, Interdependence, and Pseudonyms in CMC: Language Patterns in an Electronic Conference.” Information Society 15.4 (1999): 221-34. Taylor & Francis. Web. 22 Oct. 2015. <>

  • Although dated, Jaffe’s article speaks volumes to the way pseudonyms on the internet are still viewed, and the results of “reduced cues” (222) in the way we interact digitally while under an alias. Jaffe’s piece brings to light the manners in which relationships and bonds are formed while using pseudonyms, connecting the pseudonyms of the past (in print) and present (digitally).

Michelsen, G.F. “Pseudonyms.” Poets and Writers Magazine 22.2 (1994): 36. Periodicals Archive. Web. 22 Oct. 2015. <>

  • Michelsen’s article discusses his personal account of utilizing a pseudonym for one of his novels because he felt already “typecast” as a thriller writer. Due to the reaction he received after publishing his pseudonymously written book, readers can question the quality of work that is produced while under an alias (based on Michelsen’s experience which happens to be for the better), and if writers have the potential to tap into something “greater” through pseudonyms, challenging what the self is capable of when gender/identity is removed.

Morrison, Aimée. “‘Suffused By Feeling and Affect’: The Intimate Public of Personal Mommy Blogging.” Biography 34.1 (2011): 37-55. Print.

  • Morrison’s article, although not centred around the use of pseudonyms, promotes women’s writing anonymously and under pseudonyms through blogs. It is indicated that pseudonymous writing develops a safe haven for women to write personally without fear of exposure, suggesting that pseudonyms create communities among its writers.

Nichols, Catherine. “What I Learned Sending My Novel Out Under a Male Name.” Jezebel (2015). Web. 20 Oct. 2015. <>

  • Nichols took her own work and published it again under a male name, and while doing so she received “eight and a half times” (2015) more responses from publishers after 24 hours. Nichols’ experience exposes the gender inequalities that are still very prominent today, as opposed to Dugdale’s beliefs, in the publishing world for aspiring female writers.

Oliver Moody Science Correspondent. ”Gender bias writers told they need a man.” Times (2015): 22. Academic OneFile. Web. 22 Oct. 2015. <>

  • Although the female PhD students did not utilize a male pseudonym, reviewers suggested that they required a male voice in their writing about gender bias in their own field of publishing. The responses demonstrate an eminent issue with sexism in academia, insinuating an opportunity where pseudonyms, although not realistic in academia, could have been benefitted from.

Thormählen, Marianne. “The Brontë Pseudonyms.” English Studies 75.3 (1994): 246-55. EBSCO. Web. 21 Oct. 2015. <>

  • Thormählen studies the people behind the names of the Brontë pseudonyms, implying that these real women who influenced their pseudonyms shaped the way the Brontës wanted to be represented to the public. The history behind the pseudonyms, although appearing gender-neutral, still promotes strong female writing because they were “the surnames of remarkable contemporary women intellects,” (250) highlighting the importance of pseudonym selection that other texts did not mention.

Zanaroff, Howard G. “A Rose by Any Other Name: Pros and Cons of Pseudonyms.” Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton. Web. 22 Oct. 2015. <>

  • Zanaroff reflects on the technicalities of pseudonyms for writers considering to use them, explaining the reasoning behind the purpose of pseudonyms. There is a suggestion that implies an ill-nature that coincides with pseudonyms, interestingly displaying the negative aspects that have the potential to be disregarded, particularly insinuating that there are writers who do not use pseudonyms for lawful intentions.


Before I began my research, I did not expect there to be such a numerous amount of pseudonymous writers today. If not a full pseudonym, women are applying gender-neutral names in order to hail an equal amount of male and female readers, the most popular current example being J.K. Rowling, who also used a male pseudonym in 2013. But comparing this research of current times alongside Victorian women paints a clear picture of how hard they fought against gender bias 150 years ago through their writing and even their pseudonym name selections. Although the reasoning that modern writers justify using pseudonyms may not have correlated precisely to the female writer of the Victorian era, remnants of gender bias is still a prominent issue not only for women, but any writer looking to attract a specific audience (ex. women writing science fiction and men writing romance). I was fascinated to discover that the particular piece that contradicted the current personal accounts was written by a man, claiming that the pseudonym is “going out of style” (Dugdale), as though it were merely a trend, as opposed to a key to survival in the gender bias chess game. Yet, marvelling at how far we have come does not disregard the challenges that still lay in our midst, if gender equality in writing will ever be achieved. Therefore, I will be situating my argument along the terms of the gender bias for writers today that appear to go unnoticed. The pseudonym should be relevant without the assumption that they are associated with “fear” and “veiling”, but rather a way to eliminate gender as a reference of judgement in writing altogether.

Word Count: 278


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