Friday, 30 September 2011
JK Rowling And Me
It’s a touchy subject in our house. It always has been. You see I kept my name when I got married. There wasn’t a hope in hell of me shedding my identity, especially as I work in journalism and have a bit of a reputation. Not like that! But people know me. Not to the same extent they know Victoria Beckham or Cheryl Cole though. Having built up a reputation in journalism or indeed any profession, I imagine it’d be suicidal to become Mrs Smith or Mrs Jones. But what if you’ve written a rubbish book which bombed with the critics and you suddenly want to lose the name ‘Betty Blooper’ and become ‘Camille Harrod-Windsor.’ The name change would work for you.
JK Rowling kept her name, just like me. After all, Joanne Murray doesn’t sound that flashy on the cover of a book (apologies to all Joanne Murrays out there, authors or otherwise!) I'm sure you'll agree that the moniker JK Rowling has a bit more magic to it. And from the publisher’s point of view it was probably fundamental to the success of the book. It’s my understanding that young boys would be reluctant to read sci-fi or fantasy written by women novelists. I could be wrong though – do they even look at who wrote the book?
A reputation is something which our predecessors didn't have the freedom to enjoy. In the 18th century many female writers wrote under male or gender neutral pseudonyms to ensure they’d be taken seriously. George Eliot is perhaps the most famous example and is the creator of ‘Silly Novels by Lady Novelists.’ Then there’s S.E. Hinton (The Outsiders and Rumble Fish) and P.D. James. I recall reading The Outsiders after seeing the movie and thinking S.E. Hinton was a young man. I was wrong.
I think we ought to thank these women for standing up for literature and letting the outside world know that our books, several generations on, are just as engaging as those written by men. I often wonder why Lily Allen changed her name to Mrs Cooper. Such a talented songsmith has an international following and she gave that up following her marriage. Thank goodness it’s 2011 and times have changed, is all I can say, otherwise this post would have been written by a certain Jullian McDade.