The Cuckoo's Calling,Robert Galbraith: The Problem with J. K. Rowling's Male Pseudonym

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By ambika thakur | July 22, 2013 4:50 PM EST

As the world's leading literary celebrity it makes sense that she try to escape the trappings of this fame to explore her writing. The question isn't why she wrote under a pseudonym, but rather the choice of pseudonym she used. Robert Galbraith is clearly a male name.The use of pseudonyms by writers is as rich and varied as the history of literature itself. Every author has his or her own reason for attributing certain works to a pen name.

'The Sunday Times of London' confirmed that Rowling is the author of The Cuckoo's Calling, a detective novel written by an alleged first-time author working under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. The novel, which has sold 1,500 copies to date, may not have been a commercial success, but it did gather critical praise, the 'New York Times' reports. Of course sales have skyrocketed and grabbed the attention of entire literary world.

According to the Times, Rowling confessed to her deception in a statement, saying, "I had hoped to keep this secret a little longer, because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience. It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name."

Women writers have long faced a stigma. Considered too fragile, too sensitive, or not intelligent enough to create anything of substance, women writers have been looked down upon for centuries. And as such, women often chose to write under male names. The Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, were guilty of this - first publishing under the names Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell because, Charlotte once said, "authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice."

But then, Rowling wrote one of the most popular book series of all time.

Thus, the problem with Rowling's choice of a male name is that she is refusing to lead the way. Considering she changed her name once in the name of sales, from Joanne to J.K., it would have been nice for her to blaze the path not taken.

Though we've made great strides in literature, that same outdated belief continues to affect women writers. And this prejudice still exists in 21st century. In fact, the reason Rowling chose to use her initials instead of her first name, Joanne, is because her publisher believed boys would not buy a book written by a woman, the BBC reports.

The world's best-selling author feels the need to change her gender to write a crime novel. Apparently the literary world has not evolved yet. No offense to Robert Galbraith but hoping the next great crime novel to come from the women author with her name inscribed on the cover. Female authors must be recognized and honoured not only to give credit where it's due, but also to challenge and eradicate the perpetuated stereotypes that make male pseudonyms supposedly necessary in the first place.

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