I still remember my first Jane Austen experience. I was turning twelve, on the cusp of becoming a teenager, when my mother bought me a collector’s box of Austen novels. As I read my fresh copy of Pride and Prejudice – well worn and loved by now! – I was captivated by Miss Austen’s eloquence, truth, and charming wit. But, I soon learned that Jane’s books were a treasure trove of another kind. Beneath the tales of heartache and true love lay another gem – the names!
The first names chosen by Austen are very much reflective of the early 19th century England. These names embody the traditional, conservative styles preferred by Englishmen at this time, and they convey a sense of strength, sophistication, and substance. Monikers used by Austen continue to thrive on today’s popularity charts, yet, like Austen’s novels, they will always be regarded as classics.
Handsome, sturdy choices for boys include Charles, Henry, James, John, Thomas, and William. Names with a slightly more vintage sound include Edward, Edmund, Frederick, and George. All of these names, in addition to sounding distinguished and elegant, come with immense nickname potential. Tired of Freddie? Your little Frederick could just as easily become Red or Fritz.
Some of the names chosen by Austen reflect the growing trend towards using nicknames as names. Most notably, perhaps, is Mansfield Park’s Fanny Price. Not so keen on using Fanny as a full name? Try its longer form – Frances! Other nickname names for girls include Kitty and Lizzy, for the lovely Bennet girls of Pride and Prejudice. Moving on from these shortened forms, we enter a world of demure sophistication and understated feminine charm in the form of classic names for girls.
However, Miss Austen doesn’t disappoint in the vintage naming department, offering up a glamorous selection of names that might just be perfect for the Eliza Bennet’s of today’s world! Whereas some – Emma, Isabella, Sophia – have already risen to the top of our charts, others are waiting to be dusted off…
But, a true discussion of the novel names of Jane Austen would be sorely incomplete without mentioning the true treasures – the surnames! What better way to pay tribute to your favorite literary heroes and heroines than by naming a child after him or her? If you can name your son Bentley, why not Benwick or Bingley? If you can name your son William, why not Fitzwilliam or Willoughby. Some of the freshest choices – with the coolest nicknames! – for boys include:
And, when applied to a girl, a once-tired boys’ name takes on new life.
Lauren Miller aka Lemon is a student at Washington University in St. Louis studying psychology, neuroscience, and public health. As evidenced by this blog topic, though, she also loves literature, particularly that of the nineteenth century British variety, and sometimes wishes she’d wake up in the middle of an Austen novel. However, she’s glad to be a part of the 21st century where communities like Nameberry exist. In addition to psychology and literature, Lauren‘s passions include animals, tennis, European history, and, of course, names!