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There’s something unique about Southern names, with their smooshes of two girls’ names together, unusual nickname names and old-gentleman surname names, as well as classic appellations dating back to slave-naming traditions, that sets them apart from say, typically New England or Midwestern names.

So here are some interesting choices from books and plays by Southern writers about characters in Southern settings, from classics by George W. Cable and William Faulkner to more modern works like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Since we’ve covered Gone With the Wind and To Kill a Mockingbird pretty thoroughly before, you won’t find Scarlett or Ashley or Atticus in this list; here are some less familiar finds.

Girls

AdaCharles Frazier, Cold Mountain

Alma—Tennessee Williams, Summer and Smoke 

AmandaTennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie

BlancheTennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire

Calpurnia—Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Castalia—Allan Gurganus, Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All

CelieAlice Walker, The Color Purple

ChablisJohn Berendt, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Clytie (Clytemnesta)– William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom

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Celebrity Baby Names

At last! Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck have finally announced the name of their newborn daughter: Seraphina Rose Elizabeth.

Seraphina‘s name, which means fiery or ardent in Hebrew, comes from the Seraphim, the high order of six-winged angels. Spelled Serafina in Spanish and Italian, this elaborately feminine name is in step with the Isabellas and Gabriellas so popular today, yet is far more distinctive.

Jen and Ben have proven their baby naming know-how with this gorgeous choice, a great match for Violet, and it’s sure to rise up the popularity list along with that of her big sister.  Much more unusual than Violet, Seraphina hasn’t ever appeared in the Top 1000 of the Social Security list in the past century.

Rose is the middle name du jour, a flower name match for Violet.  And, like many young Americans following the British tradition, the couple has chosen two middle names (although some people have already expressed the objection that it wasn’t fair for this baby to get one more than her big sister).

Seraphina hasn’t appeared much in popular culture references, though a couple of its variations have.  With the Latin  Serafina spelling, it was the name of the passionate heroine of Tennessee Williams The Rose Tattoo, and just last year it was a  character played by Eva Green in The Golden Compass.  It’s also reminiscent of Sarafina, the South African hit musical that played on Broadway in the 90s.

What do we think of Seraphina?  Let’s just say that we picked it as one of the Authors’ Favorites recommendations in The Baby Name Bible.

But do we have a winner in the Guess the Jennifer Garner Baby Name contest? Not a single one of the hundreds of entries picked Seraphina, though a lot of people did guess the middle name Rose.

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