By K. M. Sheard of NookofNames.com
In keeping with the season, here is an offering of my favorite ghostly names:
Alexander. One of the ghostly children of Lucy M. Boston’s Children of Green Knowe, who lived and died during the reign of King Charles II. The most famous Alexander is, of course, Alexander the Great.
Banquo. The tragic figure of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, who was murdered by his erstwhile friend. The origin is uncertain, but even the historicity of the man is questioned. It is quite probable he was invented by a sixteenth-century Scottish academic.
Elly and Blair. Elly Kedward is the name of the “Blair Witch,” a woman supposedly hanged for witchcraft at Blair, Maryland, in the eighteenth century. Elly is usually a short form of Eleanor or Ellen, but Elly Kedward is actually an anagram of Edward Kelley — the sixteenth century ceremonial magician and alchemist.
Erik. The “Phantom of the Opera.” Today, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical is the definitive version everyone thinks of, but it actually began as a 1910 novel by Gaston Leroux (Le Fantôme de l’Opéra). Technically, of course, Erik is not actually a ghost, but his heart was in the right place…
Hamlet. Probably the most famous literary ghost of all time, Hamlet’s father — also called Hamlet — is pivotal to Shakespeare’s play. The late medieval English name Hamlet is a pet form of Hamon, from the Old German haimi “house” and “home”; but Hamlet in the play is used for the medieval Danish Amleth, which is probably a form of Olaf.
Helena. Helena Ravenclaw is the reclusive “Grey Lady” of Ravenclaw House, in Rowling’s Harry Potter tales. The original Greek Helenê means “torch,” but as far as Helen of Troy’s name is concerned, this may be coincidental — but certainly, the Ancients used to interpret the name as meaning “shining.”
Jacob and Marley. With his clunking chains and grey, transparent pallor, Jacob Marley typifies the classic Victorian image of the restless ghost, when he appears to Scrooge on Christmas Eve to warn him to mend his ways.
Peter and Quint. Is Peter Quint a ghost — or not? He is one of the former employees that the governess thinks she sees and grows increasingly fraught about in Henry James’ masterpiece ghost story The Turn of the Screw.
Over to you. What are your favorite “ghost” names?
This blog appeared previously on the author’s website.