The Power to Name

By Stephanie Newell,

Book cover of The Power to Name: A History of Anonymity in Colonial West Africa

Book description

* Finalist for the African Studies Association's 2014 Melville J. Herskovits Award for best book in African Studies Between the 1880s and the 1940s, the region known as British West Africa became a dynamic zone of literary creativity and textual experimentation. African-owned newspapers offered local writers numerous opportunities to contribute…

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Why read it?

1 author picked The Power to Name as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This study of West African writers who used pseudonyms has prompted me to think about the importance of anonymity for female writers throughout the ages.

Newell looks at Ghanaian authors of the early twentieth century who used a range of pseudonyms, often for quite playful and experimental reasons.

Some of these writers were, of course, women, and they found that a pseudonym gave them increased respectability. But the pseudonym could be a double-edged sword.

A pen name was a useful cloak of anonymity allowing a woman to write.

But it also means that the true identities of these female writers…

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