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Category: favorite literary names

Literary Names: The Bronte Sisters

brontes

We’ve talked a lot about Shakespearean literary names and characters in Dickens and Jane Austen, but we’ve overlooked three of the best namers in literary history—the sisters Brontë.  We love their own names—Charlotte, Emily and Anne, and we love their initial-appropriate male pen names—Currer, Ellis and Acton.  We even love their surname, which a number of parents have chosen for their daughters.

But it is the particularly rich cast of character names in their novels that we love the most.  One of them, in fact, had a considerable effect on baby naming of its era.  Though it’s long been said that it was Shirley Temple who promoted her given name in the 1930s, she wasn’t the first.  In Charlotte Brontë’ second novel, following Jane Eyre, the protagonist of Shirley was given that name because her father had anticipated a boy, and Shirley was a distinctively male name at the time.  The novel’s Father Keeldar made a gender switch that has proven to be permanent.

Here is a selection of Brontë bests;  the list isn’t meant to be complete—some of the more common names have not been included. (The initials AB, CB and EB represent Anne, Charlotte and Emily.)

GIRLS

Adèle, CB—Jane Eyre

Agnes, ABAgnes Grey

Alice, AB- The Tenant of Wildfell Hall; CB- Jane Eyre

Annabella, AB- The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

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bookreader3

Today’s Question of the Week: Is there a name from a book you read when you were younger that made enough of an impression on you that you’ve loved it ever since?

(After all, at least some of those hundreds of new babies being named Atticus must have some connection to that inspirational lawyer in To Kill a Mockingbird  and all those recent little Holdens to that cynical adolescent Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye—whether conscious or not.)

So think back—can you trace your long-standing attraction for a particular name to an impression it made on you at an impressionable age?

Anyone out there who actually has used such a name for their child?

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