Category: literary baby names
By Linda Rosenkrantz
Some names scream out their Shakespearean heritage–think Hamlet, Macbeth, Desdemona, Ophelia, Iago, Romeo–while others carry a more subtle reference to their ties to the Bard. We’re looking here towards the bottoms of the cast lists, at the secondary characters who might be a servant or a follower or friend. So to avoid Romeo always being followed by Juliet, you can pick one of these that have a less pronounced Shakespearean tie.
Angus—a good old Scottish name from “the Scottish play,” Macbeth, in which he is a general and the thane of Glamis, influenced by the prophesies of the three witches. Also the god of love and youth in Irish myth, Angus is especially popular in Australia now, thanks to AC/DC rocker Angus Young.
Looking at names that were popular in the early days of the U.S. gives us a chance to reflect on how much we have changed and evolved over the last two centuries. We are clearly more multicultural as a society in terms of how many different countries, languages, ethnicities and cultural traditions we draw from in choosing names for our children.
Most of the common names in the early nineteenth century in this country came from the British tradition, and in fact, the lists of popular names would be almost identical for England and America. And yet names were chosen from some of the same sources as today: family histories, celebrities, religious traditions and popular entertainment. The lack of variety or originality of the name lists from this period belies the fact that names were chosen to denote respectability rather than the individuality valued today.
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same….
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
I like to think that if Rudyard Kipling had provided some baby-naming insight from beyond the grave, he would have added a stanza to his poem “If” saying something like, “If you can name your baby Rudyard, you’re going to get asked a lot of questions.”
By Erin Waldron
This past week, America said a sad goodbye to one of the most beautiful and influential voices of our time when poet, author, educator, actress, director, and civil rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou passed away on May 28. While we mourn her loss and reflect on her countless accomplishments and the extraordinary life she lived, here are just a few ideas for those who may consider honoring Dr. Angelou‘s legacy for a 2014 baby. If you are expecting a new addition this year, would you choose any of the following for your child’s first or middle name spot? I would love to hear more of your suggestions in the comments.
Marguerite: This is Maya Angelou‘s birth name, which was shortened to “Maya” as a nickname from her older brother. Marguerite, the French form of Margaret, has been off the charts since 1970, but is on the verge of a comeback, currently at Number 406 in Nameberry.
By Linda Rosenkrantz
Last week was the birthday of Henrik Ibsen, the towering nineteenth century Norwegian playwright and poet who was one of the founders of Modernism in the theater. Known for his realistic exploration of controversial social issues, his plays A Doll’s House and Hedda Gabler are considered feminist landmarks.
Ibsen‘s twenty-six frequently produced plays are populated by a wide range of characters. Those listed below offer an interesting selection of Norwegian names of that period (though a few are imports from other cultures), from the familiar (Ingrid, Nora, Finn) to those that are less known.