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Professional Maiden Name

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A woman gets married, but she has already built a career and made her full name recognizable for it. Therefore, she keeps her maiden name to avoid confusion in her professional life.

Keeping the maiden name is extremely common among female scientists and other academics, as their professional reputation is built upon their peers being able to track their body of work through published studies, most of which only show the last name and first initial of the contributor. Female authors, likewise, and especially their publishers, tend to prefer it if their readers aren't confused by their books appearing with two different names on the covers.

Women who do change their legal names when they marry may also continue to use their maiden names socially or professionally, especially in fields like acting where Stage Names are common.

This can also apply to divorced or widowed women who remarry, but keep their first married name if they find it socially or professionally advantageous.

Related to Took the Wife's Name, in which case the husband takes the wife's surname if she chooses to keep it for her career or higher social status. Also compare The Maiden Name Debate for when a woman is unsure whether to keep her maiden name.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In Spider-Man, Mary Jane changes to "Watson-Parker", but continues to use "Watson" for her job since fashion models are another job where name recognition is essential.
  • In Superman comics, Lois Lane is usually portrayed as having changed her name to Lois Lane-Kent legally while still writing under her maiden name.
    • Pre-Crisis, the Earth-Two Lois Lane changed her married name to "Lois Kent", but kept her maiden name for professional purposes like her post-Crisis counterpart. As a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, her name is a huge draw for readers of the Daily Planet, after all.
  • Inverted with supporting X-Men character Moira MacTaggert (formerly Moira Kinross) who kept her husband's name after he died, despite him being a horribly abusive man who refused to divorce her. Moira is a prominent scientist and Nobel Prize winner, so keeping her name would have been professionally important.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Safe Havens, Samantha keeps her maiden name because her career was established as Samantha Argus.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Future Briefing Island, it's revealed that Midnight, who is Momo Yaoyorozu's mother here, uses her maiden name in her official biography as it does not list her marital status. It grants her family some anonymity as well as to her daughter to avoid claims of nepotism.
  • In Chapter 7 of The Grinning Goblins, it's stated that Artemisia Lufkin, the first woman to become Minister, kept her maiden name because she was already in office when she got married.
  • In Lady Archimedes, Hermione establishes this when George proposes to her early in the Battle of Hogwarts, lampshading the Trope.
    Hermione: I'm keeping my maiden name. It's too confusing building up a scholarly reputation when you suddenly have to change your name on all your papers.
  • In NUMB3RS fanfic series Bodies in Orbit, Robin Brooks, Don's wife, and a lawyer, kept her maiden name after marrying Don, and when their daughter is born, they have a combination of their last names, Leah Margaret Brooks-Eppes.
  • Tales of Karmic Lies Aftermath reveals that Caline Bustier kept her maiden name after marrying, mostly because she didn't want her students to think she'd 'gotten old'.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Die Hard: At the beginning of the movie, John McClane and his wife Holly are separated; she is living and working in Los Angeles under her maiden name Gennaro. At the movie's end they reconcile, she reverts to using his surname, and he moves to L.A. to be with her.

  • Family Skeleton Mysteries: Dana Fenton kept her surname when she married her husband because her family's name is on "Fenton's Family Festival", the carnival they run.
  • In Fifty Shades Freed, Ana, after marrying Christian, insists that she wants to keep using her maiden name at work. Christian doesn't take it well.
  • Harry Potter: According to Pottermore, Professor McGonagall was actually married for a short period in the 1980s, but kept her last name as "she had always been a bit of a feminist."
  • How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom: Two of Souma Kazuya's initial five wives keep their maiden names for political reasons following their group coronation/wedding ceremony in volume 10. He instead takes their surnames to make his regnal name Souma Amidonia Elfrieden.
    • Liscia Elfrieden, his first primary queen, was crown princess of Elfrieden and betrothed to him in order to make him her parents' Heir-In-Law, and therefore his legitimacy as King of Elfrieden comes through her.
    • His second primary queen, Roroa Amidonia, is Sovereign Princess of Amidonia in her own right, and keeps her surname in order to maintain the political fiction of the Principality of Amidonia being a semi-autonomous state in real union with Elfrieden, after the two countries had been enemies for two generations. She also gives her son Leon the Amidonia family name, in part to make it clear he isn't to be considered in the direct line of succession (she wishes to raise him to inherit her trading company instead.
  • Lord Peter Wimsey series: In Busman's Honeymoon, Lord Peter marries best-selling author Harriet Vane. She is happy to become Harriet Wimsey (and "Lady Peter" on formal occasions), but states that naturally she will continue to be "Harriet Vane" for professional purposes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bones: Angela and Brennan, both who work at the Jeffersonian Institute, continue using their maiden names (or maiden alias if you want to be technical in Brennan's case, only her father Max uses the real family name), after getting married. It's especially understandable on Brennan's case because she's a forensic anthropologist and novelist who is primarily known by her surname.
  • CSI: NY:
    • While Lindsay does change her name to Messer, she is sometimes still referred to as "Officer Lindsay Monroe Messer," such as when being presented with her medal in 'The 34th Floor.'
    • Former FBI agent-turned-CSI Jo Danville says with an eyeroll that she had refused to take the name of her now ex-husband, fellow agent Russ Josephson, "because then my name would've been Jo Josephson. Please."
  • For All Mankind: In season two, Tracy Stevens (one of the first female American astronauts) has divorced her husband and re-married, but she keeps the Stevens surname because that's the name the public recognizes.
  • Pretty much all of the married women on Grey's Anatomy keep their maiden names, for obvious professional reasons. At one point April addresses Meredith as "Mrs. Shepherd" and Meredith quickly corrects her that she's Dr. Grey. The one exception is Dr. Addison Montgomery-Shepherd, although she reverts to Dr. Montgomery after she and Derek get divorced.
  • Growing Pains: While having legally taken her husband's name, Maggie Seaver uses her maiden name of Malone in her professional life. It was even lampshaded in the first reunion movie.
  • JAG: Following her marriage with Bud Roberts, Harriet continues to be referred to by her maiden name, Sims. It's likely done for convenience because there would otherwise be two lieutenants Roberts in the same workplace. It's unknown if she changed her legal name.
  • On the Israeli sitcom Shemesh, the eponymous character finds out Eti, his employee-turned-wife, is credited by her maiden name on the telenovela she stars on, she explains to him that she got the job before they got married and she can't change it anymore for professional reasons. He's irked by it, but accepts it anyway.

    Video Games 
  • Persona 4: It's implied early on that Misuzu Hiiragi, wife of Taro Namatame, kept her maiden name after being married, possibly because of her career as an enka singer.
  • The main couple in Phantasmagoria are Donald Gordon and Adrienne Delaney. Why is never addressed, but since Don is a photographer and Adrienne is a novelist, they likely kept their own names for business purposes.

  • Kevin & Kell: Lindesfarne keeps the name Dewclaw after she marries Fenton, likely because she's already a published scientist.
  • Amy Chilton from Scary Go Round is Amy Beckwith-Chilton in the Spin-Off webcomic Bad Machinery, due to her marriage to Ryan Beckwith. She is quite successful with the antiques shop she has set up back in SGR, so this may probably be for the bussiness-strategical reason of name recognition.

    Real Life 
  • Many actresses (at least American ones) actually will legally change their names when they get married, but continue to use their SAG-AFTRA-registered unmarried names professionally. Alyson Hannigan, for instance, changed her name to Alyson Denisof upon marrying Alexis Denisof, but still uses "Hannigan" as her screen name.
  • Agatha Christie was Agatha Mallowan from 1930, but she kept Christie (her first husband's surname) as her pen name.
  • Opera singer Angela Giorgheu became famous using the name of her first husband, and carried on using it even after she'd divorced and remarried.
  • Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel still uses the name of her first husband, even though they divorced back in 1982, and she remarried to Joachim Sauer. (Her birth name is Angela Kasner.) While Merkel had already been divorced for 8 years by the time of her first election, she was a chemist involved in scientific research before that. And while she'd been dating her current husband long before entering politics, it took them well over a decade to marry... by which point she was one of the most prominent politicians in Germany and thus would've potentially caused confusion on the ballots by changing her name again.
  • Annie Mae "Tina" Turner kept her married name after divorcing Ike, enduring the bad memories attached to it, for business purposes. It worked, however, as she brought far better to that name than Ike ever did.
  • Barbara Bel Geddes, a famous actress, was married twice and kept her distinctive maiden name on both occasions.
  • Australian Liberal politician Carolyn Power was born Carolyn Habib and was already married to her childhood friend Brad Power before the 2018 South Australian state election. However, she had already begun to campaign under her maiden name, so she did not officially begin to assume her husband's surname until after the election to avoid having to reprint her campaign materials.
  • Cherie Blair, wife of Tony Blair, uses Cherie Booth (she's the daughter of actor Anthony Booth) for her legal work. A confusing situation in that she had already been a barrister for four years when she married Tony Blair, and for the fact that she accepts being called "Cherie Blair" or even "Mrs. Tony Blair" outside of being a barrister.
  • Cheryl Cole of pop group Girls Aloud and judge on The X Factor was originally Cheryl Tweedy. When she married football/soccer star Ashley Cole in 2006, she changed her name to Cole for personal and professional use. She kept the name after their divorce in 2009 as she became more known as Cole. After she remarried, she adopted Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, but bills her music as just Cheryl because it was easier for the designers of her album covers. Even after her second marriage ended, she has simply referred to herself as just Cheryl.
  • Pulitzer Prize-winner Connie Schultz wrote a column about a reader who consistently criticizes her for not taking her husband's surname and insists on using it in lieu of her chosen maiden name.
  • Elisabeth Sladen, who married fellow actor Brian Miller in 1968, kept her maiden name for her professional career. She was "Lis Miller" at home.
  • Massachusetts senator and 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren (née Herring) kept her first husband Jim's name after divorce. She had already built up her law practice under that name by the time they got divorced. She's been married to her second husband Bruce Mann since 1980.
  • Roosevelt administration Labor Secretary Frances Perkins (1933-45), who was the first woman ever appointed to a Cabinet position in America, kept her last name and even won the right to do so in court. At 33, she got married late for the era and had already built a name for herself working in New York State politics. She didn't want to confuse anyone. She also wanted to keep her work separate from her husband's, who also worked in state level politics. Her husband was also mentally ill, making her the family breadwinner in a time in which both were very stigmatized, so keeping her name gave her a level of separation from the situation.
  • Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick (born Grace Barnett Wing) married Jerry Slick in the early 1960s and kept her married name after their divorce and her later remarriage to Skip Johnson.
  • Similarly, Pat Benatar (born Patricia Mae Andrzejewski) married one Dennis Benatar in the early '70s and kept her married name after their 1979 divorce. In 1982, by which time she had become a major star, she married her guitarist and manager Neil Giraldo, taking his name for legal purposes but keeping Benater as her stage name.
  • When Hillary Rodham married Bill Clinton, she had already established herself as a successful lawyer and writer. Up until her first tenure as first lady of Arkansas she kept that name, but when Bill lost the governorship in 1980 his advisors claimed her decision was one of the main reasons he lost (forget the thousands of Cuban refugees he permitted to enter the state and Reagan's coattails), presumably because voters in the Deep South perceived a woman who was using her maiden name as a Straw Feminist. She compromised, changing her name to Hillary Rodham Clinton for publishing and law-practicing purposes. Since her 2016 presidential campaign, she's been known officially as Hillary Clinton.
  • J. K. Rowling is actually named Joanne Murray since marrying in late 2001. She just didn't bother to change her pen name (which technically was a pseudonym anyway, since she never had a middle name). All three of her children have "Rowling" as a middle name, however.
  • Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg did take her husband Martin's surname when they got married in 1954, but she abhorred being called "Mrs. Ginsburg". She always used "Ms. Bader Ginsburg" instead, both personally and professionally. She did, however, know to pick her battles about it when she was younger.
  • Japanese writer Fuyumi Ono, author of The Twelve Kingdoms, kept her maiden name as her pen-name after marrying.
  • American animator Lauren Faust kept her maiden name after marrying another animator, Craig McCracken.
  • Rare Male Example: Science fiction/horror writers Steve Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem chose a new surname on marriage. He still uses his "maiden" name as a middle name because he had published under it when he was single.
  • Another male example: when Yale Law School classmates James "J.D." Hamel and Usha Chilukuri married in 2014, both took the surname of J.D.'s maternal grandmother, who had played a major part in raising him. As J.D. Vance, he first entered culture as the author of Hillbilly Elegy and later became a U.S. Senator from his home state of Ohio.
  • Actress Stockard Channing still uses the name of her first husband, Walter Channing, even though they divorced in 1967 and she has been married three more times since.
  • When Trading Spaces host Paige Davis married her husband, Broadway actor Patrick Page, she kept her maiden name for understandable reasons.
  • Susan Sarandon, née Tomalin, has always used the surname of first husband Chris Sarandon in her professional life, during and after her Common Law Marriage to Tim Robbins.
  • British TV presenter Tess Daly is married to another TV presenter, Vernon Kay. She kept her maiden name.
  • Vera Miles kept the surname of her first husband, Bob Miles, after they divorced. She couldn't go back to her maiden name, Vera Ralston, because there was already a well-known actress by that name (a former champion figure skater who moved to Hollywood). To make things even more confusing, both Veras co-starred in films with John Wayne.
  • Bev Perdue, the first and as of 2023 only female Governor of North Carolina, used the last name of her first husband, Gary Perdue, throughout her political career even though she and Gary divorced in 1994. Interestingly; she uses the last name of her current husband, Bob Eaves, as her middle name.