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The woman formerly known as…

Does changing your name when you marry have a fundamental impact on your identity? And does changing it back after a divorce help you feel better? Annabel Abbs asks women in the know…

Names are powerful things. I discovered this in an earlier career when I helped companies invest millions of pounds naming and, occasionally, renaming themselves. Public figures have always understood the power of a name. Hundreds of actors, singers, models and sports stars change their name by deed poll every year. Whoever we are, our names are an essential part of our identity. They indicate our gender, ethnicity and culture, even our age – but they also carry subtle and emotional significance. So why do so many of us relinquish them when we marry?

I tied the knot in 1995. Back then, 94 per cent of women took their husband’s name on their wedding day. By 2013, this figure had fallen to 75 per cent. Last year, it fell again – to 54 per cent. That’s still more than half of us choosing to discard the surname we’ve grown up with.

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