She might be the billionaire author behind the Harry Potter books, but JK Rowling has revealed that her publisher tried to hide her gender for fear that a female pen name may repel male readers.
The bestselling writer, whose first name is Joanne, revealed during an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that her team wanted to use her initials to make the series “appeal to boys and girls”.
“Basically, they were trying to disguise my gender,” she said. “Obviously that lasted about three seconds because the book won an award and I got a big advance from America and I got a lot of publicity. So I was outed as a woman.”
Despite liking her initials, Rowling was quick to emphasis that she would not have chosen to use them for that reason, but was simply happy to be published and willing to go along with the demands.
“If they told me to call myself Rupert, I probably would have done to be honest with you,” she said. “But now, I actually quite like having a pen name because I feel that’s…like an identity and then in private life, I’m Jo Murray, and it feels like quite a nice separation.”
While we’re glad that Rowling is enjoying the benefits of a pen name, the reasons for her being given one in the first place show how far there is to go when it comes to proving that women are just as talented as men, just as sellable (the record-breaking Wonder Woman movie, hello?) and have no reason to hide their female identities.