real life

BEC: Sometimes I regret not changing my name. And it's because of Zoe Foster.

Bec: “Sometimes I regret not changing my name.”


A photo of cutlery has caused me angst.

And not just any cutlery. Zoe Foster’s wedding cutlery.

When I heard that the tremendous Zoe Foster (I don’t use the word tremendous often but really is there any other word to describe Zoe?) had scooted off and married that charming rogue Hamish Blake – I did a big WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP and then I did what millions of other people did. I broke my ‘never buy a magazine’ rule and rushed off to buy the weekly mag that had their wedding pics.

The venue!  The guests!  The dress!  The food!  The happy couple looking deliriously happy!  And then that goddamn cutlery shot.

The photo that set me into a spin.

Pourquoi? (Little bit of French there to impress you …).

Because that crafty minx Zoe Foster had had her wedding cutlery engraved with Mr and Mrs Blake.

And I swooned.  And then I felt a little pang of regret.

Because somedays I really, really regret not changing my name to my husband’s. Patricarchal bullshit aside, the fact is that now that I have kids I sort of wish we all had the same name.

So that when I get our totally naff personalised family calendar made every year, I could genuinely call it ‘The Robinson Family Calendar”.

So that when I go to help at Ava’s kindy, the teachers wouldn’t have that momentary look of confusion.  Do the kids (who are instructed to call adults by their surname) call me Ms Sparrow?  Or Mrs Robinson?

The “Mr and Mrs Blake” cutlery.

So that when Ava – on a whim – decides to clock her baby brother on the head using, I don’t know, say a Peter Fitzsimons novel I can say, “In the Robinson family, we don’t assault family members with novels over 100 pages … )”


Despite loathing my surname growing up, I made the decision when I was 21 that I wouldn’t change my name should I ever get married.  After all,  it’s MY NAME.  My identity.  And suddenly renaming myself Rebecca Smith would feel utterly ridiculous and about as real as walking into a room and trying to pass myself off as Anastasia Beaverhausen.  I couldn’t do it with a straight face. Or without a wig and a mink. And a Russian accent. Okay, and some fake eyelashes.

Add to that the fact that I’m a writer and known for my name … well … it would be career suicide, wouldn’t it?  And seriously, if I was going to change my name I’d change it to Rebecca Keyer (so that my novels would sit right next to Marion Keyes … obvs.)

As for that trouble-maker Zoe Foster or Zoe Blake or whatever alias she’s going by now, I thought I’d email her to find out if she had in fact changed her name to Blake. Or whether the wedding cutlerly was some kind of suck up job to her new mother-in-law.

Here’s what Zo had to say on the matter…

I wanted very much to become Zoe Blake, straight up. I love the name Blake, have always had a strange fondness for single syllable surnames and was happy and proud to take on my husband’s name.

However. As a writer, and with some form of profile, it’s not as black and white as that. I have spent the last decade building the name Zoe Foster, and do not wish to waste said decade. On my columns, my websites, in magazines, and most pertinently on my books, it’s all Zoe Foster. People know me with that name, could I just throw it all away and risk falling into the deep, wet, mouldy cave of Google SEO anonymity as Zoe Blake? Would people understand that Zoe Blake used to be Zoe Foster, when only half her books indicate as such? Seemed a bit hard workish.

Zoe and Hamish at the wedding

So I wondered if I could be Zoe Blake in Real Life, and Zoe Foster in the media. I became instantly bamboozled as to how I might best manage that, and something just didn’t feel right about it. I wanted to take his name, and not hide it, and can you even imagine the stress of having TWO signatures? Too, too much.

And so, finally, after a lot of thought and more than enough pissing about on the topic, I chose to double-barrel. I never saw myself as a hyphen, but it seems to be the best solution. I get to keep my original name, which means should people search for me, they will still hopefully find me (probably under a blanket, eating salt and vinegar chips and hiding from my current book deadline), but I also get to take my husband’s name. Also, and this was an important one for me, I wanted our children to have the same last name as me, (because otherwise, you know, they might not know if I am their mother and head home with Patty Blake, the canteen lady.)

I will keep straight up Zoe Foster for my books, but in columns, online, everything else, I will be, am Zoe Foster-Blake.Well, Zoe Blanche Foster-Blake if we’re being thorough. Goodness… she sounds posh, doesn’t she? Wonder if she’s friends with Helena Bonham-Carter and Rosie Huntington-Whitely. Probably.

You know, she’s convinced me. I’m going to do the same thing and hyphenate my name. Afterall, Rebecca Foster-Blake has a nice ring to it. I’m off to engrave me some forks.

Click through the gallery below for some other celeb couples who may-or-may-not-have changed their names… To each their own! 

I know we’ve discussed this topic TO DEATH over the years but am I the only person who sometimes regrets their decision?  And if and when you get married, would you change your name?