The name Mary Bly might not be one you are familiar with, but you might have heard of her alter-ego Eloisa James. Eloisa James writes romance fiction set in England’s Regency and Georgian periods, while Mary Bly is a tenured professor of Shakespeare at Fordham University in New York City. Mary Bly is also the Director of Graduate Studies in the English Department as well as the head of the Creative Writing Program at Fordham University. So how in the world does she find the time to write novels between her staggering academic workload?
Mary Bly is the oldest of four children born to the poet Robert Bly and the short story writer Carol Bly. The family did not own a television; instead they had over 5000 books. At a young age, Mary Bly became hooked on romance novels and convinced her father to let her read one romance novel for every classic novel she completed. Mary Bly graduated with her Bachelor’s degree from Harvard, went on to receive a Master’s of Philosophy from Oxford, and then her doctorate in Renaissance Studies from Yale.
Bly only began writing romance novels when her husband wanted to postpone having a second child until they had paid off their student loans. She wrote Potent Pleasures and had two publishers fighting over it, which allowed her to receive a sum of money that paid off her student loans in full. Bly decided to write under the the pseudonym Eloisa James because she was worried that her colleagues wouldn’t take her seriously as an academic if they found out she wrote romance novels.
Bly disguised herself by wearing contacts instead of glasses when she was Eloisa James. When one of her novels made it onto the New York Times Bestseller List, Bly decided to “out” herself at a faculty meeting on February 16, 2005. Once she had revealed herself, she wrote a piece for The New York Times defending the romance genre.
Currently, Bly still works as a professor as well as writing her novels, which allude heavily to Shakespearean themes. She still continues to write under her pen name. Currently, we have several available print and digital books available by James. Start with Much Ado About You.