Here’s a thing I never knew. Lots of American women legally change their middle names as well as their surnames when they get married. They bin off (trash) their birth middle names and put their maiden name in the middle instead.
Honestly I thought it was just for Facebook purposes that American women put their maiden names in the middle, but no. This is a pretty normal thing to do and according to the flimsy and unscientific evidence of my book club last night, I am able to announce that 75% of women in the US have done this. Really.
A little light research later, I am able now to come up with some historical precedent for this (to my mind) strange phenomena.
Can you name any of these women?
The first one is Harriet Beecher Stowe. Harriet Elisabeth Beecher was born in Connecticut in 1811 and in 1836 she married Calvin Ellis Stowe. Here is her most famous work:
On to number two.
Recognise her? I chose a deliberately tricky photo but here is a more up to date snap of the famous lady in question:
Hillary Diane Rodham was born in 1947 and married Bill in 1975. Technically I think Hillary might have kept Diane and may legally be Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton but she is often written and spoken about as Hillary Rodham Clinton so that’s good enough for me.
Now what about the last one? I’m not really expecting anyone to recognize her but she gets a mention because her name is so like what my name would be (if I had switched out my middle name for my maiden name that is) and I thought of her when I was thinking about this. I checked her out and low and beyond, she is another one. Here is one of her most famous novels:
I was only fourteen when Jenny Seagrove and her big doe eyes were a mini-series sensation in the UK and Barbara Taylor Bradford was a household name. Barbara Taylor (not sure if she had a middle name) was born in Leeds in England in 1933 and married an AMERICAN, Robert Bradford in 1963. They live over here and she is an American citizen.
Listen… Barbara Taylor Bradford…. Kathryn Taylor Braithwaite. Eerie really. In fact I don’t know what’s stopping me changing my name ASAP.
Oh, yes I do. There’s the fact that I don’t ever get called Kathryn, that I never cared for Taylor particularly and that Braithwaite, frankly, is a nightmare surname in the States. I think I’ll be sticking with Mary.