Category: names from the arts
Literature has been a source of inspiration for many parents over the years. Thousands of babies have been named after favorite characters, authors, and literary places. This has led to many well-named, book-loving children running around. Chances are that these children will eventually read the book their name was inspired by: for those whose names were inspired by children’s books, that day will come even sooner.
There are hundreds of well-named characters in children’s literature, and many books that have been loved for generations have proper names right in the title. Here are some prime examples.
One prevalent thread in children’s literature is main characters with short, sweet, nicknames ending in the -ie sound. Examples include Elsie (from Elsie Dinsmore), Pippi (from Pippi Longstocking), Winnie (from Winnie the Pooh, of course), Harry (from the Harry Potter series), and Charlie (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). These names would easily fit right in with currently popular names. Other names in this vein include Betsy (from Betsy–Tacy), Caddie (from Caddie Woodlawn), Julie (from Julie of the Wolves), Nancy (from Fancy Nancy and the Nancy Drew mysteries), and Lilly (Lilly‘s Purple Plastic Purse).
On the other hand, longer names are found in children’s books as well. Everyone knows of Pollyanna, Stellaluna (which was used as Stella Luna by actress Ellen Pompeo), Matilda, and Angelina Ballerina. Similar long names include Coraline (from the book of the same singular name), Esperanza (from Esperanza Rising), and Ramona (from the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary). The boys’ side brings long monikers like Alexander (from Alexander and the Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day), Ferdinand (from The Story of Ferdinand), and Sylvester (from Sylvester and the Magic Pebble).
Children’s literature also brings a bevy of traditional names. Many classic children’s books were written long ago, so this would be expected, but more recent books utilize traditional names as well. Names for girls in this category include Alice (from Alice‘s Adventures in Wonderland), Amelia (from Amelia Bedelia), Charlotte (from Charlotte‘s Web), and Madeline. These names are timeless and will always fit in. Other girl names in this category include Catherine (from Catherine, Called Birdy), Ella (from Ella Enchanted), Olivia (from the Olivia series), Rebecca (from Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm), and Sarah (from Sarah, Plain and Tall). These names are always sure to be pronounced and spelled properly!
Classic names on the boys’ side are all very handsome choices: Edward (from The Miraculous Journey of Edward Toulane), George (from Curious George), James (from James and the Giant Peach), and Peter (from Peter Pan). Any boy would be lucky to receive such a strong name.
Many names from children’s lit are due for a revival. These may not be currently super popular, but they still have rich histories and are wonderful names. Examples for girls are Anne (from Anne of Green Gables), Eloise, Harriet (from Harriet the Spy), Heidi, and Martha (from George and Martha). Girls with these names would have a beautiful and solid first name, and yet would would likely be the only one in their class.
There are a similar number of boy names in this category, possibly still considered fusty and old-fashioned by some, but the right little boy could make them oh-so-handsome. Amos (from A Sick Day for Amos McGee), Hugo (from The Invention of Hugo Cabret), Ivan (from The One and Only Ivan), and Lyle (from Lyle, Lyle Crocodile) would all fit in easily with trendy names. Names in this category that are due for a dusting-off include Clifford (from Clifford the Big Red Dog), Harold (from Harold and the Purple Crayon), Richard (from the Richard Scarry books), and Stuart (from Stuart Little).
Finally, we have names that are more trendy and modern. Our parents or grandparents likely wouldn’t have used these names, but the current “anything goes” mantra of the baby-naming world right now makes them usable. These include Bentley (from Snowflake Bentley), Caspian (from Prince Caspian), and Shiloh (from the Shiloh trilogy). One can also look to last names of characters; if Tom and Huckleberry aren’t your style, Sawyer and Finn might be.
By Zeffy, Baby Names from Yesteryear
George Frideric Handel, born in 1685, is considered to be one of the most accomplished opera composers in history. Handel was German born but it was in England where he made his fortune and fame. He tapped into the English aristocracy’s obsession with all things Italian by creating beautiful, intricate Italian operas, and it’s his operas that show his talent for naming characters. I don’t know how many of the names below are actually usable, but they’re fun and so name-nerdy yummy.
Alceste – From the 1727 opera Admeto, this is the Italian form of the Greek mythological name Alcestis. Its possible meaning is ‘valiant, courageous’. Alceste is also the title of a mini-opera by Handel.
Charles Willson Peale was one of the key players in early American art, painting some of the most famous political figures in American history. He founded a dynasty that would produce a number of important and influential artists. But it’s his creativity in naming his children which brought him to my attention.
Peale was married three times and had seventeen children with his first two wives, Rachel Brewer and Elizabeth de Peyster. Most of his children’s names are testament to his love of art, politics and the natural sciences. This man certainly knew how to stick to a theme (kind of…).