Middlemarch is to be published for the first time in almost 150 years under George Eliot’s real name, Mary Ann Evans, alongside 24 other historic works by women whose writing has only ever previously been in print under their male pseudonyms.
Evans adopted the pen name of George Eliot in the mid-19th century, in order to ensure her works were taken seriously.
“Ladies and Double-Ladies of the Time-o-Sphere,” I said, looking around the room at the voluptuous blondes and brunettes who formed the Force-Femme Bodyshaping Elite. “I want to tell you about a little girl – the littlest girl in England. Her name is Mary Ann Evans, and she doesn’t believe in herself. Also, she doesn’t know what bra size she should actually be wearing.”
“A 34C is equivalent in cup volume to a 30E, 32D, and a 36B,” the brunettes whispered.
“This is called sister sizing,” the blondes responded, cupping their own breasts reverently.
“Most women don’t know their true bra size. The band should rest comfortably against the rib cage, above the diaphragm, with no spillage of flesh either above or below. The straps should be snug and secure, with no pinching or reddening of the shoulders. The cups must never gape. She whose cups a’gape, must let our adjustments make,” the French maids mumbled through their ball gags.
“I propose – ladies, please hold your squealing until the pinching and cocktail hour – I propose that one of us be sent back to 1859 and teach ‘George Eliot’ to take back her power, which as every woman here knows comes from the name your Mommy and Mean Mommy select for you at birth.”
Silly of the Witchfinder-General, I thought, to have forgotten to burn so many witches, all of whom had at least a dozen daughters apiece.
Mary Ann Evans looked up from her half-finished Spinoza translation to gaze curiously at the figure that had suddenly appeared in a flash of light in the corner of her room.
“What manner of garb is this, fair stranger?” she said, mannishly, but in a redeemable sort of way. There was nothing seriously the matter with her that could not be made over.
“We don’t have much time, Mary Ann,” I said, wrestling her into a linen chemise. “I’m here to take you seriously.”
“Hold still, Mary Ann,” I shouted, trying to maintain steady pressure on the tube of Charlotte Tillbury Matte SO 90S pressed against her snarling lips, “and let me reclaim your mouth for women.”
“I told you,” I said, testing the secureness of my restraints by pushing my wrists against one another in the hopes of generating some wiggle room, “I come from the year 2020. Publishing faces a crisis: George Henry Lewes is too famous, and no one remembers if Miss Bretherton was written by Ella Hepworth Dixon or Mary Augusta Ward.”
I set the Girl-O-Whirl spinning, and settled back as Mary Ann’s eyes dilated.
FILLE ON THE FLOSS
ROMOLA STILL GOOD YOU CAN KEEP THAT ONE AS-IS
I ENJOY BEING A GIRL
I ENJOY BEING A GIRL
FELICITY HOLT, RADI-GAL
GREAT NOVELS BY LADY NOVELISTS
THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES PRESENTS MIDDLEMARCH
JANET’S REPENTANCE OF CROSS-GENDER IDENTIFICATION AND HEALTHY REINTEGRATION OF UNAPOLOGETIC WOMANHOOD
“YOUR NAME IS FRANCES ETHEL GUMM,” I screamed, getting in a pretty solid right hook before the security guards wrenched my hands behind me. “Don’t let Hoagy Carmichael take that away from you.”
Irving Thalberg moved in, menacingly. They didn’t call him “The Boy Wonder” for nothing. I’d seen him flatten many a plucky heroine into a feckless lad with nothing but a handkerchief and a monocle. But he was no match for my Sissification Ray, which I’d cleverly hidden in my pockets.
My dresses always had pockets.
I’m a girl, and by me, that’s only great!
I am proud that my silhouette is curvy,
That I walk with a sweet and girlish gait
With my hips kind of swivell-y and swerve-y.
I adore being dressed in something frilly
When my date comes to get me at my place.
Out I go with my Joe or John or Billy,
Like a filly who is ready for the race!
When I have a brand new hairdo
With my eyelashes all in curl,
I float as the clouds on air do,
I enjoy being a girl!
When men say I’m cute and funny
And my teeth aren’t teeth, but pearl,
I just lap it up like honey
I enjoy being a girl!
I flip when a fellow sends me flowers,
I drool over dresses made of lace,
I talk on the telephone for hours
With a pound and a half of cream upon my face!
I'm strictly a female female
And my future I hope will be
In the home of a brave and free male
Who'll enjoy being a guy having a girl... like... me.
Panting for breath, my breasts perfectly supported as they heaved up and down by my custom Maximum Breastraint device, I climbed back into the Time MaSheen, and set the date to 1972, where John Elton was about to write the wrong lyrics to “Candle In the Wind.”
A woman’s work is never done. Luckily, we have….all the time in the world.
For a less frivolous take on historical gendered referents, my wife (real name Doctor Baby) has written elsewhere on the subject:
“People sometimes assume Victorian female novelists were not read or not taken seriously, which just isn’t true. That’s of course not to deny the overwhelming structural misogyny in which Victorian women lived, it’s to strengthen our understanding of it. The Victorian hatred of women did not lead men discredit female novelists, but to discredit novels in general (with a few exceptions) because they were often written and read by women. But more importantly, so what if someone’s trans expression was, in part, socially determined? Categories like “man” and “woman” are meaningless outside the social conditions that reproduce them in each historical setting, so sexuality and gender presentations are always, to at least that extent, situational. If one lived in a time when, for example, a category like “doctor” entailed the defining predicate “male,” could we not reasonably refer to an AFAB person’s desire to be a doctor as, in part, a trans desire? Embarking on a hunt for a pure and saintly trans, entirely free from worldly concerns, is going to prove just as fruitless in 2019 as in the 1810s - we’re talking about a complex arrangement of desire, identification, and politics; how could any transition be entirely devoid of a sense of priorities and practicalities? The search is honestly slightly distasteful.”