The Duchess Who Wasn’t Day on August 27 celebrates the life, times and works of Irish author Margaret Wolfe Hungerford.
Born in 1855, Hungerford wrote anonymously under the pen name, The Duchess. She is most well known for her book Molly Bawn.
It is unclear why August 27 was chosen by the unknown creators of this unofficial holidays to honor Hungerford, but some people speculate that the day is called the Duchess Who Wasn’t Day because of the anonymity in which Hungerford spent her life as a writer.
Anonymous Female Writers
History is full of women writers who spent their lives writing and publishing books and novels anonymously. This was because in the past, it was believed that women could not write. Books published under a female name were either rejected for publication or did not do well in the bookstores. This forced talented writers like Hungerford to publish under pen names or male sounding names.
Some examples of now famous authors who wrote under pseudonyms because they were women are: the Brontë sisters, who wrote under the names Currer Bell (Charlotte), Ellis Bell (Emily), and Acton Bell (Anne); Jane Austen, who wrote as The Lady; and Mary Ann Evans, who wrote Middlemarch as George Elliot. The Dutchess Who Wasn't Day also celebrates these and many other women authors who were unable to be themselves because of societal constraints.
How to Celebrate?
Celebrate the day by reading some of Hungerford’s work. In addition to Molly Bawn, her other works include A Little Rebel, Phyllis and Faith and Unfaith.
Read books by other anonymous women authors and read about their lives as women trying to break societal expectations of what they could and could not do.
Did You Know...
...that Hungerford is attributed for making the phrase “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” famous?
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