Best Girls’ Storybook Names: Beyond Madeline and Matilda

For many name lovers, that passion was sparked by love for a name from a children’s book. It might have been as simple as Alice or Anne, Jo, Beth, Amy or Meg, as fanciful as Pollyanna or Amelia Bedelia, as memorable as Eloise or Fern, Madeline or Matilda— or even have been an attractive animal’s name like Celeste the elephant or rabbits Cecily or Jemima. It’s hard to pick a dozen best from all the possible choices, but here are our top 12 most adventurous:

Winifred/ Winnie

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The 1975 Natalie Babbitt fantasy novel Tuck Everlasting focuses on the adventures of ten-year-old Winnie Foster, formally named Winifred. Winifred is a relatively undiscovered vintage gem, with a choice of two nicknames—Winnie and Freddie. Winnie Cooper was a memorable character on The Wonder Years.

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34 Responses to “Best Girls’ Storybook Names: Beyond Madeline and Matilda”

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MissusAytch Says:

April 18th, 2013 at 11:54 pm

I like most of these. Harriet the Spy was my favorite book as a kid, and I’d absolutely use Harriet with the wonderful nn Hattie, if our last name didn’t begin with Hatt-.

sarahmezz Says:

April 19th, 2013 at 12:31 am

An interesting mix of names. I think the usable ones are: Annika, Beatrix, Clover, Coraline, Harriet, Linnea and Lyra. Less usable would be: Arrietty (sounds made up, which it is), Flossie (only as a nn), Posy (only as a nn), Sophronia and Winifred.

alphabetdem Says:

April 19th, 2013 at 12:36 am

Great list. Love a lot of these, and I love the inspiration!

While I love the His Dark Material series, Lyra was never a favorite name of mine. Similar names like Leila, Lilia and Aria appeal more, though they’re really not that different. It’s strange how a minor change can make a big difference.

I would probably not use Annika, but I would be ok with others using it! It’s nms, but quite pretty.

Love Harriet, Coraline, Linnea, and Posy as a nickname.

Never heard of Arrietty before, but it’s quite beautiful!

I love when there’s a story behind a name, even if it’s as simple as “it was my favorite character when I was growing up.” It’s personal and meaningful, and a book lover knows how much a story can mean to a person.

AmelieAmour Says:

April 19th, 2013 at 12:58 am

I really love Lyra, Coraline, Beatrix, Florence (Flossie) and Josephine (Posy).

SoDallas3 Says:

April 19th, 2013 at 12:59 am

I love Winnie! So much that’s probably the one I adore most on this list. I also like Lyra, Harriet, Linnea,and Coraline.

NellieDellie Says:

April 19th, 2013 at 5:17 am

Love so many of these. Beatrix nn Trixie, Coraline and Harriet are my favourites.

4815162342 Says:

April 19th, 2013 at 5:22 am

I loved Trixie Belden growing up. Great inspiration for names

dindlee Says:

April 19th, 2013 at 6:07 am

These are lovely.

Mclevine Says:

April 19th, 2013 at 6:35 am

Beatrix, Coraline and Clover are wonderful! Winnie and Linnea are great names too.

name-obsession Says:

April 19th, 2013 at 6:53 am

I love Annika, Coraline, Linnea and Winifred. Such beautiful names. Winifred would probably be a middle name though.
Also, as someone who remembers the Tuck Everlasting movie… I can’t believe Winnie was supposed to be ten! Movie makers will do anything to get a plot going. I’ll have to read the book.

maggiefromcanada Says:

April 19th, 2013 at 8:28 am

I like Linnea, Beatrix, and Coraline. Annika was on my list until a close friend used it for her daughter (she didn’t know I liked it), and I still love the name.

Maba Says:

April 19th, 2013 at 8:37 am

Flavia of the Flavia de Luce mysteries! Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, A Red Herring Without Mustard, Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag, etc.

Maba Says:

April 19th, 2013 at 8:41 am

Oh, and Flavia’s sisters, Ophelia and Daphne, nicknamed Feely and Daffy.

Stelmaria Says:

April 19th, 2013 at 8:59 am

I love this list so much! Lyra, Betarix and Clover are my favorites. And Winnie is my guilty pleasure name. Tuck Everlasting and His Dark Materials are some of my favorite books ever.

Flick Says:

April 19th, 2013 at 10:20 am

Linnea was one of my absolute favorite books growing up! I had a strange love affair with Monet when I was about 10, so of course this book came my way around my 10th birthday. The name has always been beautiful to me, but one I don’t think I would use, I love to suggest it as a more interesting way to honor or use “lyn”.

southern.maple Says:

April 19th, 2013 at 10:25 am

Sophronia and (maybe) Winifred are the two that I would consider.

Whirligig Says:

April 19th, 2013 at 10:59 am

Ooooh! I like all of them. My favourite book out of these has to be Ballet Shoes.

GrecianErn Says:

April 19th, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Has anyone caught that Clover was the knife-wielding adorably cute murdering beast from District 1 in the Hunger Games? (Cato & Clover)
Can’t do it… that little girl from Orphan haunts me, especially as Clover.

My faves from this specific list:
Lyra, though I kind of like Lyric too
Posy, just think it’s adorable
Annika, but too… not my child. 😉

My fave literary names are:
Matilda – a great, great aunt. I’m loving it and trying to persuade everyone else.
Cordelia
Bianca
Rosalind – definite Shakespeare notes here.
Elizabeth – so many of them
Magdalena

EmilyVA Says:

April 19th, 2013 at 1:20 pm

I just want to say regardless of what I think of the names individually, I think this one of the best slideshow/presentations I’ve ever seen on nameberry. I really like the theme and many of the names. I didn’t know Coraline was Caroline with a typo (how Imogen!). There was much to see here. I really think this was done well, and one of your best lists.
Well done, Nameberry, well done!

encore Says:

April 19th, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Linnea is great!

mickie86 Says:

April 19th, 2013 at 2:07 pm

These remind me of the old Dick & Jane books that my Mother & Grandmother had. I love the fact that Coraline was a TYPO! That is so crazy. I bet they never realized how popular the name would become, not to mention Coralie. I love them!

Kibby Says:

April 19th, 2013 at 2:42 pm

GrecianErn – It was just Clove for the girl in The Hunger Games, not Clover 🙂

Linnea has made it onto several of these daily posts lately! And it’s getting a lot of love! I find it a bit frustrating! I loved Linnea a few years ago and all it got was complete hate!!!

I agree that this is the best slideshow in a long long time! Loved it! I wish more would be like this! (Maybe it’s just because I love Literary options?)

maggiemary Says:

April 19th, 2013 at 3:17 pm

I love Harriet, Arrietty, Posy, Clover and Beatrix.

peach25 Says:

April 19th, 2013 at 4:37 pm

I will always love “Anne with an ‘e”’ because of Anne of Green Gables.
Ditto Scout from TKAM, the nn of Jean Louise.
Of these, like Harriet best.Flossie, Posy, Trixie would be cute kittens!And Clover.

namesage Says:

April 19th, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Sophronia was my Great-Grandma’s name. 🙂

ssterikoff Says:

April 19th, 2013 at 6:11 pm

There is a Sophronia in our local graveyard, which is a favorite place of mine to look for names.

Flossie, how I love thee!

linda Says:

April 19th, 2013 at 6:49 pm

Thanks for all the appreciation!!!

chicamerlin Says:

April 20th, 2013 at 7:37 am

I honestly love all of them, except for Sophronia. It seems a bit too heavy for anyone to carry. And I loved all the books, too 🙂

TheWriter Says:

April 20th, 2013 at 9:39 am

Linnea seems pretty at first, but it sounds like a person with a New Jersey/New York accent trying to say “linear.” As in, “linear equation.” Takes me back to Algebra class.

roseymaam Says:

April 20th, 2013 at 1:47 pm

I would also add Clementine from the books of the same name; Lulu from one of several books and series (Lulu and the Brontosaurus is great); Ivy from the Ivy and Bean books; Margaret from Are you There God? It’s Me, Margaret; Moxie from the Reinvention of Moxie Roosevelt; and Junie from Junie B. 3rd Grader.

Maudie Says:

April 20th, 2013 at 10:54 pm

Love this list, very inspirational. I hope you will do one for the boys as well!

namesage Says:

April 20th, 2013 at 11:29 pm

My mom passed on the Trixie Belden books to me. There were some great names in that series! I discovered the name Knute from one of the books. Trixie’s best friend’s name was Honey, I remember.

Erinm Says:

April 21st, 2013 at 5:47 am

Can’t believe Aurora from Sleeping Beauty wasn’t included, but ‘Sophronia’ was. Weird…

tori101 Says:

April 21st, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Ah an interesting selection of names; my favourites were Annika, Beatrix, Coraline, Clover, Harriet, and Lyra.

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