The Strange Love of Martha Ivers

Iverstown is a fictional town in this 1946 film noir starring Barbara Stanwcyk, Van Heflin and introducing Kirk Douglas. Ivers is also my name (although I changed it after I married my other half).

Iverstown is based in Pennsylvania and based on the milling industry, dominated by the Ivers family. I grew up watching old films with my dad and was always intrigued by this film due to the name. As Irish surnames go, ‘Ivers’ is relatively uncommon (although less so in America, that’s another post). Ironically, in this film, Martha Ivers often tries to disassociate herself with the name. She wants to be known as ‘Smith’ like her father. Smith represents the freedom she cannot have as she is bound to Iverstown by a terrible secret.
It’s ironic because I sometimes miss being an ‘Ivers’.

I didn’t ever imagine changing my name and not just for feminist reasons. However, my mum took ‘Ivers’ in place of her own surname, so you could argue there is no feminist option. For me, ‘Ivers’ represents my childhood, Ireland, and Lambeth, first and last times. It is part of my current identity and my past one.

My husband didn’t pressure me to change my name. In fact, he was surprised I wanted to give it up. However, it’s what my father wanted. It’s tradition, the ‘something old’ for our unconventional wedding.
We realised that we couldn’t afford the kind of wedding we imagined and so we recalibrated. Instead of saving up, we decided to seize the day.

Months after we got engaged in New York, we eloped to Brighton. It was just before Christmas, and in the New Year, we celebrated in a huge Victorian pub. It was a party rather than a sit-down affair, but it was perfect.

The registry office hadn’t felt entirely real. Changing my name was the thing that solidified it for me. I do miss ‘Ivers’ sometimes, and for a while I used ‘Iverstown’ as the name for a blog. However, Iverstown isn’t my home, Lambeth is.

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