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Category: To Kill a Mockingbird

Let’s hear it for Auntie Name!

auntyem

Today being National Aunts and Uncles Day (who knew, right?), here’s a shout-out to some of the most memorable aunts in both literature and pop culture– the sweet and the sour, the doting and the demanding, the over-indulgent and the overbearing—with, in literature at least, the unfortunate majority being the more domineering.

Especially in Victorian literature, with its plethora of poor orphans, aunts would often step in as surrogate moms.  Unfortunately, some of the more notable ones are known to us by their surnames only.

Here are some of the most memorable, from sources as varied as from novels to comics.

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lunablog

Unless you follow every reality series on the Oxygen and Style networks, Spanish soccer, country music and the contemporary cartoons, you might be hard pressed to figure out the sources behind some of the names that are suddenly rising in popularity. Yes, you may know that Number 2 boys’ name Mason is Kardashian-related, and that the Beckhams gave girls’ name Harper a big boost, but what’s with Iker? Brantley and Briella, Archer and Angelique?  Here’s a guide to the probable sources of the success of these surprising names on the rise.

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southe

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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hanames2

Have you noticed the sudden pop in popularity of girls’ names starting with the happy-go-lucky syllable ‘Ha’—some on them shamelessly stolen from the boys?  Caught in the spotlight by two recent high-profile starbabies, Harper Seven Beckham and Jessica Alba’s Haven Warren, this is among the baby name trends that seem to be spreading like wildfire both inside and outside the celebrity sphere.

So it’s ta-ta to Haley, Hayley, Hailee, Hailey and Hallie—and hello to:

Harper. Originally a Scottish family name, this is the biggest hit of all, now Number 119 on the girls’ list, after just arriving in 2004, and jumping more than fifty places in the last year.  It was inspired at least in part by America’s romance with the much-loved classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper (born Nelle) Lee, the book that has also propelled the name Atticus for boys.  Harper’s cred was then reinforced by the character of Harper Finkle on The Wizards of Waverly Place, introduced in 2007 and to a lesser extent by a more minor one in Gossip Girl. Though Harper is still used for boys, most of the many recent starbaby Harpers—from Lisa Marie Presley’s to Neil Patrick Harris’s, have been girls.  Trivia note: During fashionista Posh Beckham’s pregnancy, there were some snide rumors that her future daughter’s possible name was inspired by Harper’s Bazaar magazine.

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bookreader3

Today’s Question of the Week: Is there a name from a book you read when you were younger that made enough of an impression on you that you’ve loved it ever since?

(After all, at least some of those hundreds of new babies being named Atticus must have some connection to that inspirational lawyer in To Kill a Mockingbird  and all those recent little Holdens to that cynical adolescent Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye—whether conscious or not.)

So think back—can you trace your long-standing attraction for a particular name to an impression it made on you at an impressionable age?

Anyone out there who actually has used such a name for their child?

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