Helen is a name that has connoted beauty since ancient times (the mythological "face that launched a thousand
ships," over whom the ten-year Trojan War was fought).
The name Helen has moved in and out of favor over the centuries, often alternating with Ellen. It was a Top 5 name for several decades of the early twentieth century, falling out of the Top 100 in the fifties. Now, after being unfashionable for decades, we see signs of a comeback for Helen--it's the kind of serious, unadorned classic many parents are returning to. If Helen is too hard-core an old lady name for you, you might consider one of its many variations that may be tastier for the modern palate: Helena, Eleanor, Elena, Ella, Nell or Leonora, to mention just a few.
In Greek myth, Helen is the daughter of Leda and Zeus, who came to her mother in the form of a swan.
Helen has legions of eminent namesakes, including author and activist Helen Keller, politician Helen Gahaghan Douglas, newspaper reporter Helen Thomas, Cosmo force Helen Gurley Brown, Bridget Jones creator Helen Fielding, artist Helen Frankenthaler and actresses Hayes, Mirren and Hunt. Beatrix Potter's birth name was Helen.
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