Here’s Why JK Rowling Should Finally Drop the JK from Her Name and Go by Joanne

What gives, JK Rowling?

In 1999 when Bloomsbury signed on the debut novel by unknown author Joanne Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, they asked her to abbreviate her name. J.K. now appearing more masculine, would appeal to a wider audience, that is, a male-driven audience. In other words, the publishers wanted the book to be “taken seriously.”

This is not the first, or possibly the last time in history a woman changed her name for the chance to compete with their male literary counterparts. Louisa May Alcott wrote under the pseudonym A.M. Barnard in her early years. George Eliot is, in fact, a woman named Mary Ann Evans. And we won’t forget the Bronte sisters writing under the male nom de plumes Acton, Currier, and Ellis Bell. Bold and unmarried, Charlotte feared her and her sisters’ works would be reviewed condescendingly if they were written by women.

So why is it, two centuries later, this fear still exists? Along the same lines, men are more likely to buy books written by men.

It’s been nearly two decades since the debut of Harry Potter and the wizarding world that took the muggle world by storm. And in 2017, it’s time to embrace that Joanne, not Bloomsbury’s J.K., is the real, powerfully female author.

Why Abbreviate?

Speaking of female authors, the last decade has shown a threatening rise of women writers on the bestseller list. From as recent as 1990, women only occupied a 28% hold on the New York Times Best Seller List. Males outnumbered females 3 to 1 as commercially successful authors. Today, that number is closer to 1 to 1 with 48% of the NYTBS featuring women writers.

When Joanne first appeared in the game, the statistics were not on her side. Male writers dominated the best sellers. And a clever way to disguise the author’s sex, Joanne’s publishers asked her to abbreviate her name. Abbreviations are ambiguous. Picking up a book with two letters and a last name, no one can guess what gender the author is. However, most assume male, because classically, it is a trend for male authors. Take C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and J.D. Salinger for example. J.D. could easily stand for Julia Diane Salinger. But it doesn’t, and we know it doesn’t. Why? Because it’s pristine, it’s formal, it’s—wait for it—masculine.

So, Bloomsbury made a serious decision to seriously disguise Joanne’s gender so that the readership would take the novel seriously.

Are you f*cking serious?

From the Mouth of Babes

Rowling does not shy away from progressive and forward thinking opinions. We’ll go as far as calling her a feminist. A string of fourteen tweets from the world’s favorite author goes as such:

Warning: Profanity

Say it again for the people in the back! “Femaleness is not a design flaw!” And what bigger of a statement is there than one of the most influential women in the literary and pop culture world to come out and say, my name is Joanne, not J.K.

That being said, Rowling published a series of mystery novels under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. The beauty of this name is that she chose it. Her reason being she wanted her work to not be shadowed by the fame of Harry Potter.

She wanted critics to give real feedback on her writing and not her as a person. The choosing of a male name in this instance is completely different from publishers strongly urging to abbreviate a clearly female name.

Ultimately, women want choice without stigma. We want to destroy the stigma that women have to disguise themselves as males to appeal to the masses in the literary world. But now, in 2017, with her influence touching many lives across the globe, what better way to show who run the world? Girls.


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