How many men have written work under a woman's name?
November 25, 2008 8:38 PM   Subscribe

Can you think of any men who write, or have written, or create in any medium, under a woman's name? (I'm excluding transsexuals, and examples such as men in Shakespearean theatre and Japanese Noh Theatre.) There are plenty of women who have written under men's names, but I can't come up with a single example of the other way round. A true situation, or just my ignorance?

This is for an Outraged Essay I'm writing, about a person who uses a female persona but whose work is full of violence against women. I strongly suspect it's a man, and I'm curious how often men might have used women's names.
posted by kestralwing to Grab Bag (43 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
War writer adopts female pen name for romantic novel

I don't suppose linking your essay to men using female avatars in gaming would work?
posted by spec80 at 8:57 PM on November 25, 2008

Tom Huff published bestselling romance novels under the pen name of Jennifer Wilde.
posted by smackfu at 8:57 PM on November 25, 2008

Benjamin Franklin wrote under the name "Silence Dogood" as a teenager.
posted by Knappster at 9:01 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

1) Tom Huff = Jennifer Wilde and others
2) Mike Hinkemeyer= Vanessa Royale
posted by at 9:02 PM on November 25, 2008

Benjamin Franklin penned satiric letters to the editor under various female (and male) pseudonyms including Silence Dogood, (a middle aged widow), Alice Addertongue (a thirty-five year old gossip), and Polly Baker, who was created as his "protest to the unfairness of the early judicial system charging women for having illegitimate children while not charging the fathers."
posted by pulled_levers at 9:05 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Rrose Selavy ("Eros, c'est la vie") was one of Marcel Duchamp's pseudonyms. The wikipedia entry has a photo of him as Rrose in a rather dashing hat.
posted by abirae at 9:19 PM on November 25, 2008

Well, I've heard that Jane Austen was really a huge Yorkshireman with a beard like a rhododendron bush, but that might just be a rumour. That aside, smackfu and seem to be on the right track - romantic fiction is the ideal place to look for the literary ladyboys you long for. This blog post lists some men who write romantic fiction under feminine pseudonyms. One of these men even served as president of the Romance Writers of America!
posted by ShameSpiral at 9:19 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

John Creasey published almost 600 books using 28 pseudonyms including the female nom de plume, Margaret Cooke.
posted by longsleeves at 9:22 PM on November 25, 2008

The title of Tom Wolfe's latest book I Am Charlotte Simmons blurs the identity line a bit.
posted by abirae at 9:24 PM on November 25, 2008

Dan Rhodes has written as Danuta de Rhodes.
posted by cushie at 9:27 PM on November 25, 2008

Poet and critic Stéphane Mallarmé also published under the pseudonym 'Mademoiselle Satin'.
posted by ShameSpiral at 9:28 PM on November 25, 2008

Carolyn Keene wrote the Nancy Drew books, but is actually many people, some of whom are men.

Edward Gorey wrote under several pseudonyms, all of which were anagrams of his name and some of which were female names.

William Connor wrote as Cassandra in The Daily Mirror.

Dav Pilkey wrote as Sue Denim. Pseu-donym. Get it?
posted by papayaninja at 9:28 PM on November 25, 2008

Adam Cadre originally wrote Photopia as Opal O'Donnell and Graham Nelson wrote The Meteor, The Stone, and a Long Glass of Sherbet under the name Angela M. Horns.

Wikipedia lists Arthur Davison Ficke writing semi-joke poetry as Anne Knish and Frank Baum writing girls' fiction as Edith Van Dyne.

A fair amount of fiction in certain genres is ghostwritten--for example, something like a dozen people wrote Nancy Drew mysteries under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene, and a number of them (Walter Karig, Charles Strong, George Waller) were men.
posted by phoenixy at 9:29 PM on November 25, 2008

The Playboy Advisor is sometimes illustrated as a woman in glasses despite being authored by Chip Rowe. I think it's fair to add porn to the list of genres where female pseudonyms (real or implied) are popular. And don't get me started on Penthouse Forum.
posted by abirae at 9:39 PM on November 25, 2008

Peter Lerangis was one of the many ghostwriters behind the Babysitters' Club, writing as Ann M. Martin (who is a real person, so it might not count). His books are interesting to read as an adult. He had a predilection for describing his thirteen year old characters' bikinis in detail.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:39 PM on November 25, 2008

Nicci French and Quinn Fawcett (I think most people would assume 'Quinn' was a woman, but the name is slightly androgynous, I'll admit). Both these authors are in fact duos consisting of one man and one woman. In both cases, the false name is made up of one of the woman's given names added to the man's surname. I don't know what this means, but it's interesting.
posted by ShameSpiral at 9:44 PM on November 25, 2008

There's a Minneapolis mystery writer that write under a female pseudonym. I am drawing a total blank. He use initials then a last name. Main character was a female cop. I interviewed him for AOL over 10 years ago. Used initials, let people assume he was a woman. I'll remember the name. Also tag Astro Zombie, since he lives up there.

Max Allen Collins and his wife write together and publish under a combined female name.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:46 PM on November 25, 2008

Yasmina Khadra is actually Mohammed Moulessehoul. Wikipedia tells me that "Moulessehoul, an officer in the Algerian army, adopted a woman's pseudonym to avoid military censorship."
posted by staboo at 9:50 PM on November 25, 2008

The group blog Wonkette is written largely by men, though it was established by a woman.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 9:51 PM on November 25, 2008

Lord Berners' scandalous roman-à-clef 'The Girls of Radclyffe Hall' was published under the pseudonym Adela Quebec.
posted by ShameSpiral at 9:53 PM on November 25, 2008

I can not remember the pseudonym, but I think it was a rather flamboyant local artist who, in the late 1990s (I believe) in Durham, NC, wrote several editorials under a name, and with a style, that led everyone -- including the magazine for which he wrote -- to assume that he was a black woman. The magazine was the "Independent Weekly", and they were _furious_ when they found out the truth.

I think that the person writing turned out to be a guy who calls himself, usually, "Louis St. Lewis". I wish I could remember the pseudonym. I just spent a few minutes trying to search for it, both through Google and the Independent's web site, but couldn't find it.
posted by amtho at 9:59 PM on November 25, 2008

As this page on lesbian pulp fiction notes, mystery writer Lawrence Block wrote lesbian pulp fiction under the name 'Jill Emerson'. If you looked into lesbian pulp, I'm sure you would find lots more men writing under female names.

Paul Rudnick is also known as 'Premiere' magazine columnist Libby Gelman-Waxner.
posted by ShameSpiral at 10:12 PM on November 25, 2008

John Rott, author of More Guns, Less Crime, a.k.a. Mary Rosh--not a novelist, but fiction writer nonetheless.
posted by glibhamdreck at 10:21 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Russian novelist G. P. Danilevsky passed himself off as an indigent teenage girl to get a poem published. The page I've linked to includes some more examples of men writing as women, including Voltaire ('Catherine Vadé).
posted by ShameSpiral at 10:23 PM on November 25, 2008

Peter O'Donnell, author of the fucking awesome Modesty Blaise books, also wrote fucking awesome Gothic novels under the name Madeleine Brent.
(and according to that last link, his American publisher didn't know he was a dude for over 20 years!)

Please everyone, do yourselves a favor and read these books. They are fucking awesome.
posted by exceptinsects at 10:38 PM on November 25, 2008

A siginificant number of regular contributors to major Women's magazines are men with female nom de plume. I'm not going to give away names, but a little research should tease them out.
posted by Ookseer at 12:02 AM on November 26, 2008

There's also the case of Rahila Khan.
posted by Grangousier at 12:29 AM on November 26, 2008

This is a rather better article about the Rahila Khan book, actually.
posted by Grangousier at 12:46 AM on November 26, 2008

The Rahila Khan story reminds me of a similar affair in Australia, in which prize-winning Aboriginal writer Wanda Koolmatrie turned out to be a white male taxi-driver named Leon Carmen.
posted by ShameSpiral at 1:02 AM on November 26, 2008

Um, this is so obvious that maybe I'm reading your question all wrong, and it's a non-writer anyway, but... Alice Cooper?
posted by tavegyl at 1:46 AM on November 26, 2008

Philip Larkin wrote 'erotic novellas' (or juvenile schoolgirl romps) under the name Brunette Coleman.
posted by cincinnatus c at 2:01 AM on November 26, 2008

Science fiction writer Micheal Carroll used to write romances under the name Jaye Carroll
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:57 AM on November 26, 2008

Dean Koontz wrote under the pen name Deanna Dwyer.
posted by christinetheslp at 4:54 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

The seventeenth century poet and satirist John Taylor (the "water-poet") wrote a mock-response to two misogynistic pamphlets he had himself written (Divers Crab-Tree Lectures, 1639, and A Juniper Lecture, 1640) in a pamphlet giving the woman's view, The Womens Sharpe Revenge. Although it is now attributed to him it has previously fooled a number of scholars into thinking it was by a woman.
posted by greycap at 5:03 AM on November 26, 2008

'Naked Came the Stranger', supposedly written by 'Penelope Ashe', was in fact a hoax cooked up by no fewer than twenty-four writers, nineteen of them male.

Pierre Louÿs claimed his 'Songs of Bilitis' were the work of a lesbian courtesan of Ancient Greece, and had been found on a tomb wall in Cyprus.
posted by ShameSpiral at 5:45 AM on November 26, 2008

Response by poster: Aha! It was my ignorance, after all. Thanks for all the answers (Alice Cooper included!).

I'd heard that rumor about Jane Austen. Seems self-evident from the writing, eh?
posted by kestralwing at 6:01 AM on November 26, 2008

Ah, sorry - probably going beyond my remit as question-answerer, and I hope I'm not overegging my particular pudding, but I see if you visit my second link (An imaginary "scandal" by Theodore Dalrymple), you only get the first half. If you get there via Google (as I originally did), you get the whole article, which is worth it in this context, as Dalrymple has read the book, and points out that it's not a simple case of "Vicar impersonates Indian woman to get published and mock feminist publishing house", but firstly the stories are rather good -
[W]hat he described in his stories was only too familiar to me from my work as a doctor, and no one could write so clearly of such matters without a deep sense of purpose.

The Reverend Toby Forward, as it happens, is not the scion of privilege, even of privilege in decline; his biography in outline followed that of Rahila Khan's very closely ... Both his parents, who were working class, left school when they were fourteen years old. They lived in slum areas of the unlovely cities of the Midlands, and he himself went to schools in which half the pupils were of Indian or Pakistani descent. His early life was lived in precisely the social environment depicted in Down the Road, Worlds Away: that is to say, in a society in which a nihilistic and entirely secular white working-class culture was thrown into involuntary contact with a besieged traditionalist Indian culture in which religion, particularly Islam, played a preponderant role.
and secondly his use of the pseudonym was:
because he did not want to receive letters of rejection in his own name, which would somehow be more wounding to his pride than rejections send to Rahila Khan. But he also realized that Rahila Khan would be more likely to get a hearing than the Reverend Forward, and he felt that he had something important to say that ought to be heard. He had already sent his stories about working-class boys to the BBC under another pseudonym, Tom Dale, while he sent the ones about the Muslim girls as Rahila Khan. The BBC had treated the two writers quite differently: kind and considerate to Rahila, brusque and even rude to Tom. He learned his lesson.

Anyway, it's an interesting account of this book, and the author (whom I confess I'd always imagined to be stereotypical Vicar, like a character out of a Trollope novel), and I think the situation does add another dimension to the question of cross-gender pseudonymity of writers.
posted by Grangousier at 6:07 AM on November 26, 2008

Samuel Johnson wrote some of his Idler essays under names like Sukey Savecharges and Peggy Heartless.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:10 AM on November 26, 2008

David Duke: 'In 1976 Duke published a women's self-help book titled Finders-Keepers to raise money. He used the pseudonym Dorothy Vanderbilt. The book includes advice on vaginal exercises, fellatio, and anal sex."
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:12 AM on November 26, 2008

The late-Victorian writer Grant Allen wrote two novels under the pseudonym Olive Pratt Rayner, including The Type-Writer Girl (1897).
posted by Hellgirl at 7:59 AM on November 26, 2008

This fellow does it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:44 PM on November 26, 2008

There was a man whose book was shortlisted for the all-woman Orange Prize, but irritatingly I can't find him.
posted by mippy at 3:33 PM on November 26, 2008

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