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message 1: by Mahima (new)

Mahima Pradhan Everyone now knows that Joanne Rowling used a sort of a male pseudonym for the Harry Potter books. The reason is that she was under the impression that boys wouldn't read her books if they knew that a woman has written them. Thoughts?


message 2: by Bunny (last edited Jun 04, 2016 10:55AM) (new)

Bunny That is not quite accurate. It was Ms Rowling's publisher who requested that she use initials for her pen name. She has been quoted as saying
"It was the publisher's idea, they could have called me Enid Snodgrass. I just wanted it [the book] published."

There is a widespread notion in children's book circles, among publishers, teachers, librarians, magazine publishers, that boys won't read books by women or with main characters who are girls. Many children's authors have reported that they have been urged to hide their gender, change the sex of their main character, or leave female characters off the book cover.

I recently read an interview with an author who was invited to come and speak about her book at a school, and when she got there she discovered that although it was a coed school only the girls had been given leave to come to the assembly to hear her speak. The school just assumed the boys wouldn't want to come. When she was signing books afterward, a few boys approached with books to be signed, saying loudly that it was for their sisters, then saying quietly to her that they'd like it signed to them (the boy).

There are also occasional editorials lamenting how the enormous success of books like The Hunger Games is contributing to a decline in the number of books "for boys." There is a good old double standard still hard at work where books by men and about boys are for everyone, but books by women and about girls are only for girls. People are pushing back against it though, and progress being made.


message 3: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Stone (alysonserenastone) | 149 comments I have noticed that boys don't tend to read books that have been written by women and/or have a female lead because they don't want to be viewed as reading and liking what some have deemed to be girly books. The same is true for the girls. It goes as young as primary grades.


message 4: by Evelia (new)

Evelia | 89 comments I only read the third book from the series when I was in high school but I did not like it. I read books from both male and female authors.
My older brother liked the movies, but he did not read the books since he does not like to read.


message 5: by Elena (new)

Elena (helenahufflepuff) | 21 comments In my first HP book (Philosopher's Stone, 1st Italian edition), I had "Joanne K. Rowling" as author... I don't know why, but so it is XD
I never thought that it could be "girly" because of the female writer, but during the childhood children (and parents who buy them the books... publishers just follow the market's questions) have this idea that an author writes only for his/her gender.
I think that it was the same for the "Robert Galbraith" choice: you're a woman, you can't write a REAL detective story, unless it has a strong presence of romance between the male and female main characters. I know it has no sense, but that's the (gender-based) situation nowadays u.u


message 6: by Kanaida (new)

Kanaida I always assumed that when they use initials for an author it was just connection to a certain genre to liken it to J.R.R.Tolkien. I had never considered that it was to hide the genre of the author before.


message 7: by Ross (new)

Ross | 1444 comments It does seem odd on 2016 you can't write as the other gender authors are inventing world yet it is perceived the can't imagine a world as the other sex.

The irony being that women and men have been writing under nom de plume for centuries. Publishing house are it seems behind the curve on gender issues despite having been at the forefront of them since there creation.


message 8: by Amy (new)

Amy Lauren | 22 comments I believe that Rowling's choice to use the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith wasn't so much about gender or the genre she was choosing to write, but about her own anonymity. She was beginning a new series that was completely separate from Harry Potter and perhaps wanted a fresh start, to see if these books would stand on their own without people just automatically worshipping them because they knew the books came from the creator of Harry Potter.


message 9: by Ross (new)

Ross | 1444 comments I read somewhere she suggested a new type of book she wanted to write and they would not listen and wanted more fantasy, but that is second hand information, and what you say makes sense Amy she did have some problems with her first book after HP critiques comparing apples and oranges as they do


message 10: by Bunny (new)

Bunny Amy wrote: "I believe that Rowling's choice to use the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith wasn't so much about gender or the genre she was choosing to write, but about her own anonymity. She was beginning a new ser..."

If that is the case why did she select a male pen name? She could as easily have selected a female one.


message 11: by Henriette (new)

Henriette Terkelsen (henrietteterkelsen) She said some interesting things about the use of the pseudonym in this podcast, as far as I recall (I listened to it around Christmas, so it's not fresh in mind)
http://www.npr.org/sections/monkeysee...


message 12: by Larisa (new)

Larisa I. | 3 comments Hello, I've read her crime novels and, out of curiosity, searched for the wesite. JK Rowling explains, on the website dedicated to the Cormoran Strike series, why she chose a new and male pen name in a Q&A. Here's the link to the Q&A. I hope it answers your questions and curiosity.
http://robert-galbraith.com/about/


message 13: by Xan (new)

Xan (xan-lin) | 3 comments When I read the Harry Potter series I didn't even glance at the author's name until afterwards - so I could find out when the next book would be published. I don't remember feeling surprise or anything at Ms. Rowling's gender, just a mild interest in what the name was behind the initials. But in those days I was a massive fan of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, so I just assumed it was just a thing writers did to make them seem distinguished or mysterious.

I think it would have been a year or so later that my school had a children's author as a guest speaker. I don't remember her name but she had published a number of picture books featuring a Chinese little girl. The stories were inspired by her own culture and childhood, and were liked by publishers. However, she described having been told to change the character to a Caucasian boy because the books wouldn't sell otherwise. She refused. The books still sold.

The reason I remember because I spent an awful lot of time that day confused. Why would people think boys wouldn't like girl characters when I liked Harry Potter and Bilbo Baggins? And why did they not want the character to be Chinese?

Ah, the mind of a child...

Some time afterwards I heard of the pressure Ms. Rowling had faced from her editor to make her name gender-ambiguous. And that the practice of doing this dates back a long way - take a look at the Brontë sisters in the 1800s.

With that said, I can understand why Ms. Rowling agreed to use her initials. She did what she had to do in order to get her work out there, like so many female writers before her. But the fact that her work is out there now and is immensely loved and enjoyed shines light on this issue. It challenges the idea that women cannot be successful unless they compromise their work to fit the narrow definition of what sells.

As for her new pen name of Robert Galbraith, I think it was more about being anonymous. Some writers like having different personas which can help them write in different mindsets and explore different perspectives. I don't see Galbraith as Rowling hiding so much as expressing a different part of herself, taking away the pressure and expectations that come with being the author of a world-famous series.


message 14: by Kat (new)

Kat | 1 comments Maybe that was the case in 1997 when the first book of Harry Potter was published, but I don't see that issue now. I have read all of the books, and obsessed does not even began to describe the love I have for the book.

Any ways I have met a lot of boys now who love the book and also acknowledge the fact that it was written by a female. These days the stereotype that boys write many books about dragon while girls only write Romance just is not true.

John Green and Nicholas Sparks for example both wrote Romance novels from a girl's perspective. J.K Rowling herself wrote a science fiction novel from a Teenage boys perspective. All of their success proves that a persons writing should not be judged by their gender, but by their creativity.

While JK Rowling may have felt the need to hide her gender back in the 1900s, I would discourage an author to do the same now as it is unnecessary.


message 15: by Ana, Our Shared Shelf Moderator (new)

Ana PF | 746 comments Mod
Do people out there really refuse to read books written by women even when there are not 'feminine' in the least? (Notice my use of quotes to fully separate myself from the nonsense!) I could sort of understand, sorrrrt of, with chick-lit (which I mostly refuse to read myself because it's sheer crap 99% of the times), but other than that, wow, people really are close-minded.

As for JK Rowling, I confess I had only ever heard slightly of the male nom-de-plume (?) but there are plenty of examples in the history of literature. Cue the Brönte sisters. Also, and on the opposite end of the stick, I've heard famous Italian author Elena Ferrante was said to be a man, among other hypotheses for her mysterious identity. Now I think she denied this while still keeping her privacy, but had it been real, I wonder what could have been the motivation behind such a move.


message 16: by Alia (new)

Alia HP isnt sci-fi. Fantasy or magical realism, but given how it shuns all things scientific, it is not science fiction. Also not sure how anyone thinks the Harry Potter books are feminist.


message 17: by Ross (new)

Ross | 1444 comments Emma Wrote: "To me, HP isn't a book focused around feminism, but I believe it incorporates many important feminist values, especially through the use of strong and powerful female characters"

I did like the way the HP books just had men and women as equal and nobody give it much thought or commented on it directly just excepted it as the norm.

Might be something to this casual it is not a problem approach providing the world has consistent internal logic (like mos good Sci-Fi) to support there equal status it can send the message better than some of the polemic based approaches.


message 18: by Sara (new)

Sara From my experience - I work in the Youth department at a library - when kids come asking about a particular book (this is boys and girls alike), they often don't even know the author. Really. That's one of the difficult things I run into when trying to find the book for them if it's not one I've heard of or if they can't remember the complete title.

So, in that case, I feel like the gender of the author really only matters to those who are old enough to care about/give any credit to authors as having written the book they want to read. To kids, it's just the title - "Where is Diary of a Wimpy Kid?" "Do you have any Geronimo Stilton?" and so on. Often, when I ask if they know they author they have no idea.

But that's not to say that all kids are like that, but I do think the only things they might pay attention to would be how the cover looks - is it pink? is it sparkly? are there boys or girls involved? But even still, I know plenty of boys who will read "The Dork Diaries" even though that series is very "pink, sparkly, and girl-centric" to the extent that it looks like it totally plays into girl stereotypes. It really depends on the story and whether or not their friends are reading it, too.


message 19: by Bunny (last edited Jun 21, 2016 12:32PM) (new)

Bunny Alia wrote: "HP isnt sci-fi. Fantasy or magical realism, but given how it shuns all things scientific, it is not science fiction. Also not sure how anyone thinks the Harry Potter books are feminist."

Did I miss where someone said it was sci-fi? Or are you arguing with someone not in the "room"?


message 20: by Ross (new)

Ross | 1444 comments Alia wrote: "HP isnt sci-fi. Fantasy or magical realism"

"magical realism" is a good definition for sci-fi. not to stir the pot or should that be cauldron.

I always saw an element of Feminism in HP Subtle but that is not always a bad thing.


message 21: by Evelia (new)

Evelia | 89 comments I was discourage by the librarian in the high school when I would pick up a certain book.
One told me "are you sure you can read this?"
And another one told me
"This book might be too difficult to read."
So I would not go to the library that often, most of the books I read either were purchased by my parents, or books that were given to them.
Most of the books I read were written by men, later I took a class on women's literature and realize that it was hard to find books written by women.


message 22: by Alia (new)

Alia Ross wrote: "Alia wrote: "HP isnt sci-fi. Fantasy or magical realism"

"magical realism" is a good definition for sci-fi. not to stir the pot or should that be cauldron.

I always saw an element of Feminism in..."


No… magical realism is "takes place in the real world, but there's magic". Science fiction would at least have some elements of technology that doesn't exist. The Hunger Games is sci-fi, because there's things like helicarriers and super advanced medicine; while things like HP and Twilight are magical realism, because like it says on the tin it's "real-life" England and Washington, but there's magic.


message 23: by Kressel (last edited Jun 27, 2016 10:04AM) (new)

Kressel Housman | 436 comments Alia wrote: "No… magical realism is "takes place in the real world, but there's magic. Science fiction would at least have some elements of technology that doesn't exist. The Hunger Games is sci-fi, because there's things like helicarriers and super advanced medicine; while things like HP and Twilight are magical realism, because like it says on the tin it's "real-life" England and Washington, but there's magic."

I think you're mistaken. Harry Potter is regular fantasy because magic is part of that world. Magical realism is much more surreal. The magic sneaks up on you when you least expect it. I think One Hundred Years of Solitude is considered the prototype of magical realism.


message 24: by Kressel (new)

Kressel Housman | 436 comments Bunny wrote: "If that is the case why did she select a male pen name? She could as easily have selected a female one. "

She wrote in that link someone provided that she chose "Robert" because Robert F. Kennedy is her hero. I don't know about you, but it sure makes me wonder: why him, of all people?


message 25: by Bunny (last edited Jun 27, 2016 10:20AM) (new)

Bunny HP is definitely not magical realism. Its low or primary world fantasy. Defined as stories containing magical elements but set in the world in which we live, as opposed to high or secondary world fantasy which takes place in an alternate or secondary world which differs substantially from this one and has a different history and physics.

Magical realism is a form of literary fiction in which the magical elements serve symbolic purposes, often political. It comes out of a history of writing in countries where political opposition was dangerous so criticism of the status quo was often masked by recasting it using elements of folklore or myth, providing deniability. Oh no I'm not criticizing Stalin, I'm just writing about the devil on a visit to Moscow... The Master and Margarita. Oh I'm not saying nothing about the influence of the United Fruit Company on Columbian government, I'm just writing about ghosts in the jungle, One Hundred Years of Solitude. Everyone knows what's really being said, but it provides a fig leaf so people, including members of the ruling regime can pretend they don't know, if they choose to ignore it.


message 26: by Kressel (new)

Kressel Housman | 436 comments I totally didn't know what was being said in One Hundred Years of Solitude, but now I'll go research the United Fruit Company angle.


message 27: by Alia (new)

Alia Well, at least we agree that it's not science fiction. The books clearly loathe technology and science.


message 28: by Kressel (new)

Kressel Housman | 436 comments My husband likes to say that the difference between science fiction and fantasy is that in science fiction, the characters travel in a spaceship, and in fantasy, they travel on a flying carpet. In other words, the difference is just as you say: reliance on technology vs. reliance on magic.


message 29: by Nyssa (new)

Nyssa | 12 comments The whole purpose of science fiction is that it was meant to be based on Science fact, and/or Scientific possibilities. Fantasy is exactly that - fantasy - where anything and everything can happen.

I see magical realism as setting fantasy in a realistic world view, where it just is a part of the everyday fabric of society. I don't see Potter as magical realism because there is obviously a huge portion of society that either can not see, or refuse to believe in magic.


message 30: by Bunny (new)

Bunny Kressel wrote: "My husband likes to say that the difference between science fiction and fantasy is that in science fiction, the characters travel in a spaceship, and in fantasy, they travel on a flying carpet. In ..."

Do you know Clarke's 3rd law Kressel?

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"

Then there is also Niven's corollary,

"Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology.


message 31: by Nyssa (new)

Nyssa | 12 comments Emma wrote: "So I guess what I am saying is that science fiction and fantasy can be defined separately (use of advanced technology or magic) but there can be a lot of overlap where the two become indistinguishable, and drawing the line between the two of them is hard and possibly pointless in these cases"

Many genres cross and merge, but that doesn't make the individual genres pointless.
The Hobbit is pure fantasy; there is nothing remotely sci-fi about it. The Martian is sci-fi; there is nothing "fantastical" about it. Both are great books for completely different reasons.


message 32: by Kressel (new)

Kressel Housman | 436 comments Bunny wrote: "Kressel wrote: "My husband likes to say that the difference between science fiction and fantasy is that in science fiction, the characters travel in a spaceship, and in fantasy, they travel on a fl..."

I didn't know it, but I'll cut-paste it and send it to him. He's the one who's a fan of the genres. I just love Harry Potter.


message 33: by Bunny (new)

Bunny I'm a fan of the genres. From long before HP.


message 34: by Bunny (new)

Bunny Emma wrote: "It's interesting that you say that you're a fan of the genres from before you read HP. For me, HP was the first series of books I read in elementary school that I really loved, and HP was the reason I became such a voracious reader. Personally, I read almost all books regardless of genre - I usually pick a book up because it sounds interesting, not because it is in a genre I love, but I do know some people will pick up books just because of the genre. It's interesting how and why people are drawn to different books. ..."

I think its great that HP was your doorway to voracious reading. Its awesome when you find that thing that really clicks with you. For me, I couldn't have fallen in love with HP when I was in elementary school because it wasn't published yet. ;-) I fell in love with different books, and when HP came along it was an addition to a long history of loving books about magic and imagination.

I definitely also love other genres too, and read widely across many. And non fiction as well! I would say though that science fiction and fantasy are probably the genres I pay the most attention to, to the extent of following specific authors, reading blogs, reading short stories in on line magazines, knowing reviewers and editors names, paying attention to the awards lists and so on. I don't really do that with other genres even though I do read them too.


message 35: by Mahima (new)

Mahima Pradhan Bunny wrote: "Emma wrote: "It's interesting that you say that you're a fan of the genres from before you read HP. For me, HP was the first series of books I read in elementary school that I really loved, and HP ..."

I was introduced to the books last year and since then, my love for Harry Potter has not reduced even a bit. In fact, the movies made me a super fan of Emma!
I read all the books I can lay my hands on, be it fiction or non-fiction. I'm reading The Color Purple right now and apparently, some parts have left me wondering if it is even legal for a person of my age to read that book. It sort of left me traumatised for a while, but now I'm getting used to it.


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