The Duchess Who Wasn’t Day

Honoring the Life and Work of Irish Author "Margaret Wolfe Hungerford" on The Duchess Who Wasn’t Day - August 27

The Duchess Who Wasn’t Day is an annual celebration held every 27th of August each year. This holiday celebrates the life and works of Margaret Wolfe Hungerford, an Irish author who made great strides into putting women at the platform of writing and book publishing.

About the Duchess Who Wasn’t Day

The term Duchess Who Wasn’t Day might sound a little bit weird. Margaret Wolfe Hungerford actually used The Duchess as her pen name when she published her works. That’s why she is called the Duchess Who Wasn’t primarily because she is not a duchess in reality. She only used the term for her pen name so as not to identify her real identity when she publishes her works.

During the celebration of The Duchess Who Wasn’t Day, people give life to all the works done by Margret Wolfe Hungerford. Her most famous work is actually a book called Molly Bawn. People learn about these works and they also read them.


The history of the celebration of the Duchess Who Wasn’t Day can be traced back to the life of Margaret Hungerford as a writer as well as the societal constraints faced by women back in the days when they were not considered as writers.

History of women in writing

The fact is that in history, there have been a lot of women writers. There are a lot of women who have published books and novels but in anonymity. The reason for this is that in the past, there was a stereotyping problem that women could not write. Women who attempted to publish their own written works were either rejected for publication or had their books only shelved in bookstores without anyone interested into buying them. Because of this, talented female writers like Hungerford would publish their books under pen names or names that sounded like male names.

Examples of women who wrote under pseudonyms simply because they were women include:

  • Brontë sisters, who wrote under the names Currer Bell (Charlotte), Ellis Bell (Emily), and Acton Bell (Anne)
  • Jane Austen, who wrote as The Lady
  • Mary Ann Evans, who wrote Middlemarch as George Elliot

Because of this, the Dutchess Who Wasn’t Day also celebrates these and many other women authors who were unable to be themselves because of societal stereotyping and constraints.

Origin of The Duchess Who Wasn’t Day

We are not very sure why the founders of the celebration of this holiday chose the 27th of August as the day of celebration. However, to give a twist to the name of the holiday, we know that people called this as The Duchess Who Wasn’t Day instead of The Duchess Day. Perhaps the date of celebration was arbitrarily chosen so as to give commemoration to the fact that Hungerford spent most of her life as a writer in anonymity.

Who is Margaret Hungerford

Margaret has a unique style of making a romantic novel vogue and keeping up with all the upright morals considered as proper and appropriate back in her time. Her published works were considered charming, entertaining, and able to capture the essence of the fashionable society during that time. The settings of her works were usually in Ireland.

Her most famous work is Molly Bawn which is about an Irish girl who riled up the temper of her lover through her flirtatious manner and apathy for the normal social conventions during late 19th century Ireland. This book is the origin of the very famous phrase “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”

According to historians, Margaret would set about 3 hours every morning writing in her highly organized room where she surrounds herself with reference books. She most often published her works under “The Duchess” and sometimes “Mrs. Hungerford”.


The Duchess Who Wasn’t Day is always celebrated on August 27 each year.

Why Celebrate

The following are the main reasons why you should celebrate the Duchess Who Wasn’t Day:

To Celebrate the Life and Works of Margaret Hungerford

Perhaps the main reason to celebrate this day is to give honor to the life and works of Margaret Hungerford, who made great contributions to literature. Her works have become inspirations for thousands of writers in our generation. It is just right to pay respect to her during this day of celebration and give thanks for all her work.

To Celebrate the Published Works of Women

Another main reason why you should celebrate this holiday is to celebrate the published works of women. For so long, there was a time when women were not even allowed to publish their own written works. If they did, no one paid attention to their work. Fortunately, that has been a thing of the past. Now, we have lots of women writers who are either on the platform or at the center stage of writing. We have the ever famous JK Rowling who wrote the Harry Potter book series. We also have Margaret Atwood who wrote The Handmaid’s Tale. And there are a lot more female writers who have made outstanding and best-selling works. For sure, there will be a lot more to come in the future.

Celebration Ideas & Activities

The following are the best things to do to celebrate this holiday in the best way possible:

Read Some of Hungerford’s Work

One good way to celebrate this day is to read some of Hungerford’s work. Apart from her most popular piece Molly Bawn, you can also read A Little Rebel, Phyllis, Faith, and Unfaith. You will surely love these great literary works of hers.

Read Books By Women Authors

You can also celebrate this day by reading some good books by women authors. There is a lot to choose from. For instance, if you want a dark but enlightening feminist novel, you can read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. If you want dystopian-type novels, you can refer to the Divergent Series by Veronica Roth as well as The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. If you want to read a novel based on real-life experience, then you can read The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger.

The Duchess Celebrate on Social Media

You can also take your celebration of this day on social media. You can, for instance, use the hashtag #TheDuchessWhoWasn’tDay to let your friends and followers know that you are also participating in the celebration of this day.

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