You don't need to look far to know that there is a deep historical gender bias in literature.
Many women have famously disguised their gender and used male pseudonyms for their writing in order for them to be published or taken seriously – Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Bronte famously published some of their work as Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, while Mary Ann Evans used George Eliot for Middlemarch.
To champion female writers who have faced sexism and prejudice throughout history, and have been forced to publish their work under male aliases, the Women's Prize for Fiction is celebrating its 25th year by launching a new campaign called Reclaim Her Name.
The new initiative has seen the reissue of 25 books, many of which date back to the nineteenth century, with the writers' real names on the covers, giving them the credit and visibility they deserve.
Titles in the collection include A Phantom Lover by Violet Paget (aka Vernon Lee) and A History of Sir Richard Calmady by Mary Kingsley (aka Lucas Malet).
As well as new author names, all the books within the series (many of which are out of print) have received a beautiful, modern cover update from a selection of women illustrators across the world – including Brazil, Russia, Jordan and Germany.
To celebrate our 25th anniversary, we teamed up with @BaileysOfficial on something very special.
Introducing the #ReclaimHerName collection, 25 books previously published under male pen names, with the real, female authors' names finally printed on them: https://t.co/cdQ4wA1p4D pic.twitter.com/rW4L3ZafFJ— Women's Prize (@WomensPrize)August 12, 2020
The Reclaim Her Name collection is available to download for free, and hard copies have been donated to the British Library, but unfortunately, they are not available to buy.
Founding director of Women's Prize for Fiction, Kate Mosse, told the BBC that she hoped the initiative would continue the process of "empowering women, igniting conversations and ensuring they get the recognition they deserve."
We have rounded up a selection of the novels included within the list, giving you the option to buy a hard copy or download the new e-book. Whichever you choose, join us in celebrating women writers – past and present.
You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
'Middlemarch' by Mary Ann Evans (aka George Eliot), published by Penguin English Library: £7.99, Blackwell's
Set between 1829-1832 in a fictitious English Midlands town, the novel artfully constructs an image of modern life through depicting society, politics, human relationships, aristocracy, religion and science. Within the pages are some of the most remarkable character portraits in English literature – from Dorothea Brooke, the idealistic and naive heroine, to Edward Casaubon, the dry scholar. With every page, of which there are 900, the plot advances and surprises – zooming in and out of character paths with gusto and empathy. This work by Mary Ann Evans truly is something to behold.
'A Phantom Lover' by Violet Pagnet (aka Vernon Lee), published by Creature Publishing: £9.78, Amazon
Fans of gothic horror will revel in this haunting ghost story that follows an unexpected love affair. Framed as a story from an artist's perspective who agrees to paint William Oke and his wife Alice – he assumes that they will be dull, provincial people, but quickly becomes embroiled with the strange beauty of the pair and their home. But something is not as it seems, as Alice has a single-minded preoccupation with a seventeenth-century ancestor. With a twist ending, this page-turning novella is fascinating and multi-faceted, and is equal parts beautiful and eerie.
'Indiana' by Amantine Aurore Dupin (aka George Sand), published by Oxford University Press: £8.99, Waterstones
Set across three different locations: provincial France, Paris, and a tropical island, this absorbing romantic novel tells the story of a young woman, Indiana, who marries at 16 to a much older man. The plot turns as she falls in love with her frivolous neighbour, before quickly discovering his idea of love is very different to her own. Blending romanticism, realism, and idealism, Dupin tracks Indiana's painful experiences with powerful prose.
‘Keynotes’ by Mary Chavelita Dunne (aka George Egerton), published by Forgotten Books: £10.59, Amazon
Keynotes was Dunne’s first book of short stories, and it explores the relationships between women across class and sexuality – controversial subjects for the time. The plights of different women within these pages are as equally heart-wrenching as they are heart-warming. An inspiring must-read.
'The History of Sir Richard Calmady' by Mary Kingsley (aka Lucas Malet), published by Adamant Media Corporation: £16.49, Amazon
Lauded as one of the most controversial yet greatest works of fiction of its time, A History of Sir Richard Calmady ambitiously describes the psychological growth of a disabled man as he moves from self hatred to self acceptance. Through intertwining the literary narratives and exploring religion, gender and sexuality, this novel achieves grandeur.
'Cecilia de Noel' by Mary Hawker (aka Lanoe Falconer), published by Dodo Press: £4.99, Amazon
Set at a party in a haunted manor house, this original and cleverly told ghost story unfolds from the perspective of six different characters. The tone is melancholy as opposed to eerie, and the twist at the end leaves you feeling uplifted as opposed to terrified. A particularly interesting read.
'The Garden of Kama' by Violet Nicolson (aka Laurence Hope), published by Lymes Press: £4.75, Amazon
Making liberal use of imagery and symbols originating from north-west Indian and Persian poetry, this collection covers everything from passion and unrequited love to loss. Nicolson's ode to India stole the hearts of those across the globe, including Thomas Hardy. A beautiful read.
'The silence of Dean Maitland' by Mary Tuttiett (aka Maxwell Gray), published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform: £8.82, Amazon
From the confines of her sickbed, Mary Tuttiett created this sensational story of an ambitious clergyman who accidentally kills the father of a woman he has impregnated, and then allows his closest friend to be convicted of the murder. Presenting a fascinating insight into the forgotten world of Victorian rural life, this is an enthralling read.