Featured image for VMLY&R Helps Baileys Celebrate Women In Literature With 'Reclaim Her Name'

VMLY&R Helps Baileys Celebrate Women In Literature With 'Reclaim Her Name'

by Bill McCool on 08/17/2020 | 3 Minute Read

Many a Literature student has landed in college and come to dread the day where they must read George Eliot’s Middlemarch, a dense tome that centers on provincial life in the English Midlands during the earlier part of the 19th century. I am sure that it is a perfectly fine novel that, if I dusted off from my bedside table stacked with about 30 different books, I would likely enjoy. Also, if you don’t have 30 books piled high next to the place you rest your head, are you even really a reader?

Anyhow, I managed to dodge ever having to look beyond the front cover of Eliot's novel in a bookstore.

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Of course, there’s one problem with all of that. George Eliot didn’t write Middlemarch. That was Mary Anne Evans. Using the pseudonym George Eliot, she wrote several classic novels like Silas Marner, Adam Bede, and The Mill On The Floss. Many female authors in Evans's day would use pen names so that their work could actually find its way to readers and get taken seriously.

Baileys, in collaboration with the Women’s Prize For Fiction, is now releasing some of these classic works, and instead of giving their authors the short shrift, they’re publishing them with their real name on the cover. Dubbed Reclaim Her Name, the collection celebrates the organization’s 25th anniversary with, you guessed it, 25 books, and will be made available as eBooks that one can download free of charge. Additionally, physical box sets of the 25 titles championing females writers will get donated to select libraries.

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Designed by agency VMLY&R, the entire collection comes housed in a white case, where when displayed, the spines of the novels read, ”Reclaim Her Name.” Additionally, on the back of the box, the design team crossed out the name of each writer's pseudonym and left just the title of the book. Also, all of the volumes were given a distinctive cover designed by female illustrators from all across the globe, from Germany to Brazil, with the author’s name featuring prominently at the top of every book, just so there’s no doubting who did the real work.

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“The Women’s Prize for Fiction champions the power of female voices, something we care deeply about at Diageo,” said the company’s Adrienne Gammie, category marketing director for Gins, Pimm’s and Baileys, in a press release. “Through ‘Reclaim Her Name,’ we are excited for Baileys to extend this celebration of literary achievement to authors who concealed their gender on their work—shining a spotlight on these incredible female storytellers.” 

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“Many of the authors we selected were suffragettes and staunch feminists. I’d like to think of this project as our way of thanking them for what they did for us—and of supporting a new generation of artists through the new cover art that 13 inspiring female illustrators, from all over the world, created for the 'Reclaim Her Name' collection,” said Tamryn Kerr, creative director at VMLY&R, in the same release.

You can view the titles in the complete collection here, but with the proper, reclaimed attribution.