Love’s Gender Fury: Men Writing Romance Novels

Anne Marble
5 min readFeb 27

Yes, men have been writing romance under feminine pen names for years. It’s OK. They’re allowed. Yet even today, it’s still controversial with some fans.

An aging paperback copy of Love’s Tender Fury with the author’s name given as Jennifer Wilde. The novel as a white background with a young woman with red hair above the title. Beyond her, three men appear in the background, along with flames.
My Copy of Love’s Tender Fury by Jennifer Wilde (Tom E. Huff). (Source: Photo by the author.)

Why Is This Still a Controversy?

This came up on Twitter this weekend. The post was deleted before I could read more. From what I saw, some women felt deceived and manipulated when men wrote romance under a feminine pen name. A few thought it was creepy.

Stop. It’s 2023. I’m surprised it’s still an issue, and I’m not alone.

Yes, romances were once marketed as books “written by women for women.” But that was just marketing. Stop making romance exclusionary.

Do the people who get upset about this know that a man who wrote romance under a pen name (Leigh Greenwood) was once the president of Romance Writers of America (RWA)?

People used to sneer at romance fans like me and say, “You know, a lot of those books are probably written by men anyway.”


Male Authors Are a Part of Romance History

Even before romance was defined as the genre we know today, men were writing Gothic romances under feminine pen names. Clarissa Ross. Edwina Noone. Madeleine Brent. Edwina Marlow. Caroline Farr. Those pen names made it easier for them to sell their love stories.

When romance entered the “bodice ripper” era, men started writing those books as well, as illuminated in a post by the Sweet Savage Flame blog. As before, they used pen names.

One of the first romances to compete with the pioneering works of Kathleen E. Woodiwiss and Rosemary Rogers was Love’s Tender Fury by Jennifer Wilde. Jennifer Wilde was Tom E. Huff, a schoolteacher who wrote Gothic romances before the era of “bodice rippers.”

I haven’t read a Jennifer Wilde book yet. (There’s always a first time!) But I feel a soft spot when I come across Jennifer Wilde books because I saw Tom Huff a talk show, and he was a trip! You can learn more about him from a post by librarian Steve Ammidown and a photo shoot in Life Magazine.

During that era, other male authors writing under pen names included Felicia AndrewsStephanie BlakeVanessa Royall (the best…

Anne Marble

I’m a writer and a copy editor with experience in editing science and engineering articles. Click Lists to find my most popular articles. And hidden gems.