Category: Atticus Finch
By Meghan Daum
Normally I’m all for making fun of parents who, by dint of ZIP Code or number of tattoos, fall into the hipster category and assert their nonconformity by giving their kids names that, once upon a time, were considered best suited for pets. Hang around a playground in Silver Lake or Brooklyn‘s Park Slope and you’ll hear enough calls of “Roscoe!” and “Lulu!” to think you’ve accidentally wandered into the dog park.
Still, I say we stop piling on parents who named their kids Atticus.
Atticus makes major baby name news by topping Nameberry’s count of Most Popular Names for the first half of 2015, on the publication day of the new Harper Lee novel casting the inspirational namesake Atticus Finch as a racist.
The ancient Roman boys’ name Atticus, which indicates a person from the region around Athens, first came to notice in the US via Harper Lee‘s 1960 novel To Kill A Mockingbird and its hero attorney Atticus Finch, played the following year in the movie by Gregory Peck.
But it wasn’t until 25 years later that the name Atticus even registered on the Social Security roster of US baby names, given to a mere nine boys in 1986. Atticus did not appear on the US Top 1000 until 2004, skyrocketing in the decade since then to an official Number 370.
And now Atticus is the Number 1 boys’ name on Nameberry, attracting the most searches by our visitors in the first half of 2015. It trumps Asher, our longtime Number 1, as well as Ezra, another Biblical favorite.
Charlotte is the Number 1 girls’ name on our 2015 half-year count, catapulted to the top by the newborn British princess. In second place for girls is Amelia, Number 1 in England, with US favorite Olivia in third place.
The big question is whether Atticus can retain his popularity as a baby name in the light of the racist, ranting Atticus Finch portrayed in Go Set A Watchman, published today as the long-awaited followup to Mockingbird. In the original book, Atticus Finch is a sensitive single father who defends a black man against a trumped-up charge in a bigoted world, but this heroic image is shattered in the current work. How many baby namers enchanted with the name Atticus will choose the name anyway….or even be aware of the new negative portrayal of the once-saintly Atticus Finch?
To Kill A Mockingbird has been an unlikely influencer of baby names half a century after its publication, with not only Atticus but Harper rising up the popularity list. Harper stands at Number 56 on the 2015 Nameberry list but all the way up at Number 11 on the official US popularity list for girls.
The Nameberry popularity list tallies the most-visited of the nearly 40 million views of our baby name pages since the beginning of 2015. Rather than tracking names given to babies last year as the official US count does, it registers which baby names are attracting the most interest from expectant parents right now — which may translate to popular usage over the coming years.
The Top 100 baby names of 2015 on Nameberry are:
By Linda Rosenkrantz
It always strikes me as somewhat curious when a name that has been hidden in plain sight for decades—or longer—attached to a significant literary or real life character will suddenly pop into the zeitgeist and take off. Sometimes the contributing factors are obvious—sharing with a more recent celebrity (looking at you, Ms Johansson) or its discovery by the parents of a starbaby. And sometimes, it just remains a mystery.
Some prominent examples:
Atticus. The Harper Lee novel To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960, and the movie, starring Gregory Peck as principled lawyer and role-model dad Atticus Finch, was released two years later. Between then and now, the book has been a mainstay of English class curricula, working its way into the collective consciousness of future baby namers, while Atticus Finch was voted the greatest hero of American film by the AFI.
As the fiftieth anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird is being celebrated, the thought comes to mind that it sometimes can take decades for an iconic fictional character –usually one imprinted on our minds from a classic read during our formative adolescent years—to take off as a baby name.
A prime example of this is Atticus, as in Atticus Finch, that noble lawyer/father Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s novel, which appeared in print in 1960 and on screen in 1962, and yet didn’t make it onto the Social Security baby name list until 2004. The same is true of Holden: J.D. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield appeared in The Catcher in the Rye in 1951, but not on the pop charts until 1987. Scarlett O’Hara (GWTW book 1936, movie 1939) didn’t hit the top half of the list until 2004—when it combined with the Johanssen factor. And if we want to go back even further, it took Huckleberry well over a century to suddenly be used by a couple of celebs.
Below are some literary names from 20th century American novels and plays, a few of which, like Daisy, Owen and Ethan, have already made their comebacks, others which conceivably could, plus a few that are probably too eccentric to be condsidered.
As always there’s the caveat that not all these characters were particularly likable or noble namesakes. Some American literary names to consider, for both boys and girls, include:
ÁNTONIA — Willa Cather, My Ántonia
We’ve looked at some of the trends in movie character names of Hollywood’s Golden Age – the widespread use of nickname names and boys’ names for girls and place names. Now, here are some of the more unusual character names (and the sometimes surprising actors who portrayed them) thought up by the screenwriters—or novelists or playwrights who originally created them) of that era , as well as some that haven’t been heard of for some time and might be worth reviving.
Get ready for a looooong list, even though we haven’t included the iconic Rhetts and Ricks: