Dickensian Baby Names: Part Two
By K. M. Sheard, Nook of Names
Here is the second part of Kay Sheard’s extensive rundown of names from Dickens that might work best for babies.
Lupin — believe it or not, J.K. wasn’t the first to use this flower name as a surname; Mrs Lupin features in Martin Chuzzlewit.
Magnus — Peter Magnus is another of Pickwick Papers‘s characters. As a first name, Magnus (simply Latin for “great”) has become regarded as particularly characteristic of the Shetlands. It makes the perfect choice for lovers of Felix and Rufus wanting something that is still somewhat off the radar.
Marlie–The surname derives from the Old English mearth “pine marten” or “weasel,” or m?re “boundary” + l?ah “wood,” “woodland clearing,” “glade,” “pasture,” and “meadow.”
Micawber — one of the most likeable of all Dickens’s characters is the perennially optimistic Mr Wilkins Micawber in David Copperfield. Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones has a guitar called Micawber.
Nancy — undoubtedly one of Dickens’s best-loved characters, Oliver Twist‘s Nancy is perhaps the best embodiement, in so many ways, of what Dickens’s work was all about. Like Betsy, it’s a Victorian charmer of a name, still falling in America, but reviving in the UK (the oldest daughter of British Prime Minister David Cameron is called Nancy).
Nell — another tragic Dickensian character is “Little Nell” — a.ka. Nelly Trent — of The Old Curiosity Shop. Traditionally, the pet-name for Eleanor, it is also used for Ellen and Helen, and very much falls in that same category as Nancy and Betsy.
Oliver — the eponymous hero of Oliver Twist. Number Two in England and Wales in 2013, and rising rapidly in the US, now at 52. Usually shortened to Olly or Ollie, there’s always Ol too, and how about the medieval Noll or snappy, modern Liv instead? I’ve even seen Levi suggested…
Phenomenon – “The Infant Phenomenon” is how the Crummles refer to their beloved daughter Ninetta in Nicholas Nickleby. Offers interesting nicknames, such as Phen, Phenie, Nomi, Nomie, Menon, Mena andMinnie.
Quebec — another of the Bagnet children in Bleak House.
Quinion — Mr Quinion, good name, though not a particularly nice character, in David Copperfield.
Seth — another of the Pecksniffs in Martin Chuzzlewit, Seth has been threatening to go stellar for a while, but peaked in 200o in the US in 63rd place and has since slipped back to 231st. Curious, as it ticks all the boxes — why Ethan and Noah, but not Seth? The same’s not true in Britain, where it entered the top 100 this year.
Sophronia — an unusual option for lovers of Sophie and Sophia looking for that something slightly different. Sophronia Lammle is another of Our Mutual Friend‘s characters. From the Greek sôphrôn “sagacious,” “prudent,” and “of sound mind.”
Sophy — Although the French-spelling Sophie with an “ie” is the most popular vernacular form of Sophia in Britain at the moment, in the past, Sophy with a “y” was more normal. Sophy Crewler features in David Copperfield.
Sydney — Sydney Carton of A Tale of Two Cities is one of my personal favorite characters — I’ve mentioned before my preference for the flawed hero, and Sydney epitomises flawed hero so well. It is he who utters those immortal lines: “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” Nowadays, Sidney is the preferred spelling.
Uriah — Like Ebenezer, Uriah may well have suffered because of a Dickensian character. In Uriah’s case it is the odious, unctuous Uriah Heep in David Copperfield. I have seen Uriah mentioned positively in recent times, and he made it to 538th place in America in 2013, but can her really shake Heep off? And his disconcerting similarity to the word urine?
Wemmick — John Wemmick is a kind man in Great Expectations, known for caring really well for his elderly father.