Category: literary baby names
Since shortly after Nameberry hit the internet six years ago, my wife—who happens to be Linda Rosenkrantz—has been begging me to write a blog about how I got my name. Finally, after a long and stressful weekend of mattress shopping, I’ve given in.
Names most familiar as surnames are now prevalent in the Top 100; popular examples include Mason, Parker, Lincoln, and Madison. While the concept certainly isn’t new, surnames as first names are becoming increasingly fashionable, and parents are making more adventurous choices.
While digging through the family tree is one way to find a meaningful surname to use, culturally significant figures could serve as another source for namesakes. Here, I’ve sifted through the surnames names of some of the most famous and beloved writers to find those most wearable as first names. Though several of these names would make very unique choices, they still incorporate the popular sounds found in many other trending surnames. Choosing the surname of a favorite storyteller or poet also provides an opportunity to embed meaning and personal significance into a child’s name.
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.”