10 Reasons I Kept My Maiden Name

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

People often ask me why I use my first, middle, and last name as my writing “byline.”

Is it a branding thing? A feminist thing? A nostalgic thing?

I have a feeling that the lady at the social security office wondered the same when, looking incredulously at my beaming, newlywed face, she asked, “You telling me you want to drop ‘Grace’ and keep ‘Held’?”


“You sure?”

“I am.”

“Alright, honey. Whatever you say.”

So, for her benefit and for yours, here are ten reasons why I made that decision:

1. I’m a writer and my name forms a complete sentence. Do you really need nine more reasons?

2. “Held” means “hero” in German.

3. Growing up, I didn’t really like my last name. It sounded like a swear word, and as the smarter bullies liked to point out, it turned me into an unfinished thought—“Rachel held what?”  But I made the best of it, sometimes even turning the joke on myself. In college, when I ran for student senate, I made my campaign slogan, “Want Your Voice Heard? Go To Held.” So eventually I grew to love my strange name…enough to want to keep it. Besides, who wouldn’t want the chance to say that her husband literally “completed” her!

4. I’m incredibly proud of my parents and their reputation. I love seeing people’s faces light up when they find out that I’m Peter and Robin’s daughter. Their response is usually, “Oh, she was my son’s favorite teacher!” or “He really helped me through a hard time.”  As Solomon said, “A good name is more desirable than great riches.”  My parents made my name valuable, and I am so thankful for that.

5. I’m enough of a feminist to believe that women shouldn’t have to trade in their identity at marriage if they don’t want to. (Though I'm not enough of a feminist to go the hyphenated route.)

6. A loving husband, Dan supported the idea from the start. A smart businessman, he immediately urged me to claim the domain name, rachelheldevans.com. 

7. Search for “Rachel Evans” on Facebook and you’ll find 1,700 results. Search for “Rachel Held Evans” and you’ll find 1 result. 

8. I’ve been writing since I was in third grade and publishing since I was in my teens. A lot of readers know me first as Rachel Held, and I want to remain recognizable to them.

9. Google likes “Rachel Held Evans” a lot more than “Rachel Evans.”

10. It’s interesting enough to warrant an entire post, which saved me from having to write about Massachusetts politics. 

Okay, your turn. Tell me something interesting about your name.

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