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Classic Girls’ Names: Good Charlotte

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For the past couple of years, Charlotte has been at or near the top of the list of Berry favorites, and it’s not hard to see why.  It’s a name at the very center of the Sweet Spot of names with a ton of great attributes and references—literary, historic, and royal.  She’s demure, yet solid and strong, classic but not stuffy, British with the slightest trace of a French accent–one of the very best classic girls’ names.

She has so much going for her that we thought that she deserved a whole blog to herself.

History

Like her cousin Caroline, Charlotte is a feminine form of Charles, but arrived there in a roundabout way.  Charlotte is actually the English and French version of the Italian Carlotta, itself a feminine version of Carlo, the Italian Charles, and has been in English-speaking use since the seventeenth century.  In the fifteenth century, Carlotta of Savoy married King Louis XI of France, where her name became Gallicized as Charlotte, a form which then emigrated to England during the next century.

Popularity

The name was popularized by British  King George III’s queen, Charlotte Sophia, whom he married in 1761, and even further by his granddaughter Princess Charlotte.  Before the late eighteenth century it was a rarity in England and America; by the early 1990’s, Charlotte was a top name in Britain.

In the US, she is currently at Number 27, its highest position ever–though it has consistently been in or around the Top 300 since records have been kept.  Charlotte is even more popular in other countries:  it’s Number 6 in Australia, 14 in Belgium, 16 in Canada and 20 in England and Wales, and is also in the Top 70 in Scotland, France, Ireland,  Northern Ireland and the Netherlands.

Real Life Namesakes

Charlotte Bronte is surely the best known bearer of the name.  Born in 1816, she wrote her three great novels, Jane Eyre, Shirley and Villette under the pen name Currer Bell, but when her real name became known, and her novels became bestsellers, it had a pronounced effect of the popularity of the name CharlotteCharlotte Yonge was a prolific novelist, but she is best known to name nerds as the author of the 1863 History of Christian Names,which  has been described as “the first serious attempt at tackling the subject.”

Charlotte Corday, a figure of the French Revolution, and the subject of numerous plays, novels and an opera

Charlotte Grimké, an African-American anti-slavery activist

Idiosyncratic actresses Charlotte Rampling and Charlotte Gainsbourg; Charlotte Rae, who played the beloved housemother Mrs. Garrett on The Facts of Life.

Charlotte Marie Pomeline Casiraghi, the daughter of Princess Caroline of Monaco and granddaughter of Grace Kelly, who was named after  her paternal great-grandmother, an earlier Princess Charlotte.

Welsh singer Charlotte Church

Literary and Pop Namesakes

One of her earliest fictional  appearances was in the Beaumont and Fletcher 1613 play The Honest Man’s Fortune; another early reference is the character of Lady Charlotte Harlow, the mother of the eponymous heroine in Samuel Richardson’s novel Clarissa, and another influential one was the Charlotte in Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther. The beautiful Charlotte Stanley is the protagonist of the 1790 novel Charlotte Temple by Susanna Rowson, which was a huge bestseller.  Other Charlottes appear in Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, in Dickens’s Bleak House (where Charlotte Neckett is known as Charley), and as the memorable heroine of Henry James’s The Golden Bowl.

In more recent times, there’ve been Charlotte the endearingly gallant spider in E B White’s Charlotte’s Web; Lolita’s mother, Charlotte Haze; the Charlotte known as Lottie in The Little Princess, Charlotte York; the most buttoned-up of the quartet of female friends in Sex and the City; Scarlett Johansson’s haunting character in Lost in Translation, while others bearing that name appear in the Tom Wolfe novel I am Charlotte Simmons, in  Lost, Private Practice, The Princess and the Frog (known as Lottie), Gossip Girl (nicknamed Charlie),  and Revenge.  There’s also the ghoulish Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotteabout which the less said the better

The rock band Good Charlotte, who took their name from a children’s book called Good Charlotte: The Girls of Good Day Orphanage.

And she’s even a dessert,  the Charlotte russe, a cold Bavarian cream-like concoction invented in France and named in honor of Princess Charlotte Augusta,  daughter of George IV. Plus she’s the name of the largest city in North Carolina.

Starbabies

Pierce Brosnan and Sigourney Weaver (nee Susan) were among the first when they named their daughters Charlotte in 1972 and 1990.  They was followed by Amy Brenneman’s daughter, Harry Connick’s, Embeth Davidtz’s Charlotte Emily, Dylan McDermott’s Charlotte Rose, and Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr’s Charlotte Grace.

Variations

Charlotta, Carlotta, Sharlott, Charline, Charlene, Charlize, and Teàrlag in Irish

Nicknames

Charlie, Charley, Lotta, Lotte, Lottie, Lotty, Tottie and Totty. I know a Charlotte who has always been called Charty, a family nickname.  In the series Pushing Daisies, Charlotte’s nickname was Chuck.

Could you ask for anything more in a name?

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