How Books Got Their Titles

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images-14A blog about how famous books got their titles, peppered with amusing and surprisingly sexual anecdotes. John Cleland’s title Fanny Hill is dirty, but not for the reasons you might think. Marie Stopes’ 1918 Married Love might be the most sexually influential work of the 20th century, but its title is classic double speak that could have come right out of 1984. Speaking of which, Orwell couldn’t settle on a title, and changed it from 1980 to 1982 before finally settling on 1984. But the title story that takes the cake is Valerie Solanas’ 1968 Scum Manifesto, in which “scum” was taken to be an acronym for ‘Society for Cutting Up Men.’ Solanas denied this was the case, but her insistence that “rational men want to be squashed, stepped on…treated as the cut, the filth that they are,” suggests otherwise.


Lindsay Meisel is the director of communications at Edupath, an educational technology company in Berkeley, California. She has picked spinach at sunrise on an organic farm, written about Nietzsche and environmentalism for the Breakthrough Institute, and saved things instead of selling them at Underground Advertising. More from this author →