Literary Names: Great American Novel namesakes 101
As the fiftieth anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird is being celebrated, the thought comes to mind that it sometimes can take decades for an iconic fictional character –usually one imprinted on our minds from a classic read during our formative adolescent years—to take off as a baby name. In fact, many of the most fashionable American baby names today were inspired by beloved books.
A prime example of this is Atticus, as in Atticus Finch, that noble lawyer/father Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s novel, which appeared in print in 1960 and on screen in 1962, and yet didn’t make it onto the Social Security baby name list until 2004. The same is true of Holden: J.D. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield appeared in The Catcher in the Rye in 1951, but not on the pop charts until 1987. Scarlett O’Hara (GWTW book 1936, movie 1939) didn’t hit the top half of the list until 2004—when it combined with the Johanssen factor. And if we want to go back even further, it took Huckleberry well over a century to suddenly be used by a couple of celebs.
Below are some literary names from 20th century American novels and plays, a few of which, like Daisy, Owen and Ethan, have already made their comebacks, others which conceivably could, plus a few that are probably too eccentric to be condsidered.
As always there’s the caveat that not all these characters were particularly likable or noble namesakes. Some American literary names to consider, for both boys and girls, include:
ÁNTONIA — Willa Cather, My Ántonia
HUD — Larry McMurtry, Hud
WICK — Willa Cather, My Ántonia
ZOYD — Thomas Pynchon, Vineland
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
on July 12th, 2010 at 7:02 am
I love Temple, Veda and Holden, Valentine and Wolf.
on July 12th, 2010 at 8:28 am
I did name my son Owen because I loved A Prayer for Owen Meany, which I read while I was pregnant. I tried to talk my husband into Daisy as a nn for Margaret based on The Great Gatsby, but he only thought “Daisy Duke”, so it did not happen.
on July 12th, 2010 at 1:19 pm
Ántonia (how is this pronounced – AHN-taw-nya?)
Sophonisba – one of my favourite mythology names! Adorable with the nickname Sophie.
on July 12th, 2010 at 8:33 pm
Wilkie – author Wilkie Collins : The woman in white – is a cute boy’s name.
on July 12th, 2010 at 9:06 pm
Rita, this is a good question! I used to pronounce Antonia as Ann-TONE-ya, but a friend pronounced it ANN-toe-nee-yah and I like that better so I went with it.
What is the “official” pronunciation?
on July 14th, 2010 at 1:06 pm
I think you mean Housekeeping by MarilynNE ROBINSON. It’s a fantastic book.
on July 14th, 2010 at 3:40 pm
I would add Thayer from FSF This Side Of Paradise.
on July 17th, 2010 at 9:53 pm
I love using much loved literary names for middle names.
What about Scout?
on July 21st, 2010 at 4:43 pm
I love Rhett from Gone with the Wind fame. His character is manly and suave, everything you think of when you think of what a boy should be.
on July 30th, 2010 at 12:49 am
I love both parts of the name Newland Archer from Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence…both Newland and Archer could be used as great names. From the same book, May and Ellen are nice. Edith Wharton is a great name-picker!
on August 11th, 2010 at 6:52 am
My favourite book isn’t a classic granted (my favourite classic book being How to kill a Mockingbird my favourite name from that being Scout I also liked Revolutionary Roads by Richard Yates April and Frank being great anmes from that classic book along with this I adored Of Mice and Men however none of the names caputered my attention) but it has got a great plot and it’s heart warming Noughts & Crosses this book also had fantastic names within it these were:-
The list could go on.
I think some of Literacy names are gorgeous yet I haven’t read the books so for me I would refuse to name my child the name if I hadn’t read the book, so basically I’ve got to stop reading my trashy books and read some classics lol. Interesting blog once again.
leave a reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.