Category: literary baby names

posted by: ClareB View all posts by this author

By Clare Bristow

Edith Wharton is known for her novels of American society in the Gilded Age (the late nineteenth century) and early twentieth century.

Wharton was one of the first authors to write about this period, and she knew it well, having grown up in it. Her books are about not only high society – the parties, the travel, the social deals – but also the private life that went on behind it. Love affairs, secret debts, scandalous behavior, it’s all there.

Her characters’ names evoke that world beautifully. It’s interesting that relatively few have timelessly popular names like John and Mary. Instead, many have names that were fashionable in their era.

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Names from Books: The Golden Compass

posted by: ClareB View all posts by this author

By Clare Bristow

Now that winter is here, it’s a good time to look at names from the frozen north and beyond in the worlds created by Philip Pullman in his young-adult trilogy His Dark Materials.

If you’ve read or watched the first part, The Golden Compass (called Northern Lights in some countries), it’s hard to forget the heroine, a girl called Lyra, or the friends and foes she meets on her journey to the Arctic. She comes from a universe similar but different to ours: it’s a bit steampunk and contains colourful characters like witches and armoured polar bears.

In the following books, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass, we follow Lyra beyond the north into other worlds, including our own, inhabited by all manner of people: humans, angels, harpies, and even stranger creatures. With this eclectic mix of characters and Pullman’s love of symbols and hidden meanings, you can bet they have some good names.

Here’s a look at some of the most interesting names from The Golden Compass and its sequels, from wintry northern names to modern-sounding surnames. Warning: if you haven’t read any of the books or seen the film, there may be a few giveaway details here.

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posted by: ClareB View all posts by this author

By Clare Bristow

Halloween is behind us, but now that the days are getting darker and the nights longer, you might still feel in the mood for some ghostly, gothic names. There are plenty to be found in the poems and stories of Edgar Allan Poe.

Poe is best known for his macabre writing, although he also wrote science fiction, detective stories, and many literary essays. A favorite topic of his is some unfortunate man mourning the loss of a beautiful woman – who often returns to haunt him.

You might know The Raven, where the narrator is visited by a sinister bird who is apparently the departed spirit of his fiancé Lenore. (If you can think of that poem without thinking of The Simpsons’ version, you’re doing better than me.)

The Raven just wouldn’t be the same (or rhyme) if it was the spirit of Mary or Joan tapping at the chamber door. A romantic, dramatic name like Lenore perfectly fits the poem’s atmosphere.

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Literary Baby Names: The Lost Generation

posted by: emilygc3 View all posts by this author

By Emily Cardoza, Nothing Like a Name

“The lost generation” was a term coined by Gertrude Stein in describing the generation of men and women who had survived World War I, coming of age then and in the subsequent Jazz Age. Referring to the sense of wandering and melancholy that plagued many during the era – especially the expatriates – this term now often applies to artists of the time.

In their books, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway included a variety of characters that personified the period in different ways. Here are some of the names of those “lost” souls who have influenced American literature today.

Hemingway names:

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Literary Baby Names: YA book characters

By Abby Sandel

Literary baby names are big – just look at Emma and Harper. Some of the most interesting influences come from novels aimed at younger readers. YA – young adult – literature has given us Luna (from Harry Potter), boosted Hazel (from The Fault in Our Stars), and exposed a generation of future namers to some dazzling possibilities.

There’s no shortage of series with fascinating characters and the names to match. Several of them – like the remade fairytale adventures of Cinder – could turn into movies, too. When that happens, it’s even more likely that an unusual name might catch on. Hunger Games-inspired names like Finnick and Primrose are already making more parents’ shortlists.

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