Within the pages of books from all periods of literary history—from classical, metaphysical and Elizabethan poetry and plays to the Romantics and the Realists, right up to modern novels—can be found gems of names that have been lost to time, either because they’ve been identified with a singular character or simply because they’ve gone out of style. Here are twenty such girls’ names, with the boys group to follow next week.
ALIA—Alia Atreides is a key figure in the Dune sci-fi series created by FrankHerbert, appearing in four of the novels. A variant of the Hebrew Aliyah, it means “ascending.”
BRIONY is the young girl who sets the plot in motion in IanMcEwan’s Atonement. It’s a variant spelling of Bryony, the name of a perennial vine, coming from the Greek meaning ‘to grow luxuriantly’.
CALIXTA—Calixta is an alluring woman in Kate Chopin’s At the ‘Cadian Ball, a novel set in the Creole south at the turn of the century. In Greek, it means “most beautiful.”
CLEA—An artistic character in the volume of the LawrenceDurrellAlexandria Quartet that bears her name—and also the sorceress lover of Dr. Strange in the Marvel Comics universe.
CORINNA –After appearing as the main female character in Ovid’s Amores, Corinna became a favorite in 17th century poetry, including RobertHerrick’s Corinna’s Going A-Maying. It’s a Latinized form of a Greek name meaning maiden.
FANTINE—The name of the beautiful, naïve, self-sacrificing character in VictorHugo’s Les Misérables.