Literary Baby Names: 77 Quirky Characters from 20th Century Lit

Literary Baby Names: 77 Quirky Characters from 20th Century Lit

By Linda Rosenkrantz

If you’re looking for a really unusual name, you might not have to look any further than your nearest library.

What follows is a melange of quirky character names—a mix of word names, surname names, nickname names, invented names–found in modern literature.  To keep it from going on into infinity, I’ve limited the list to mainstream twentieth century novels and plays, avoiding for the most part the often bizarre nomenclature of sci-fi and other genre lit.

Alivina Houghton, The Lost Girl, D. H. Lawrence

Amaranta Ursula, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Marquez

Amaryllis, Back to Methuselah, George Bernard Shaw

Ayla, The Clan of the Cave Bear, Jean M. Auel

Caithleen Brady, The Country Girls, Edna O’Brien

Cathinka, The Monkey, Isak Dinensen

Edmée, Chéri and The Last of Chéri, Colette

Elya Gruner, Mr. Sammler’s Planet, Saul Bellow

Fortitude, Vile Bodies, Evelyn Waugh

Kismine Washington, The Diamond as Big as the Ritz, F. Scott Fitzgerald

Lenina Crowne, Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

Lindo, The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan

Love Simpson, Cold Sassy Tree, Olive Ann Burns

Melanctha Herbert, Melanctha, Gertrude Stein

Meridian Hill, Meridian, Alice Walker

Monina McLeod, Barbary Shore, Norman Mailer

Oedipa Maas, The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon

Prairie Wheeler, Vineland, Thomas Pynchon

Praxis Duveen, Praxis, Fay Weldon

Sabbath Lily Hawks, Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor

Sethe, Beloved, Toni Morrison

Sula, Sula, Toni Morrison

Tallis Browne, A Fairly Honourable Defeat, Iris Murdoch

Tristessa, Tristessa, Jack Kerouac

Zazie, Zazie, Raymond Queneau

Zilla Riesling, Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis

Antanas Rudkus, The Jungle, Upton Sinclair

Athens Ebanks, Far Tartuga, Peter Matthiessen

Barley Blair, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, John Le Carré

Bascom Pentland, Of Time and the River, Thomas Wolfe

Battle Fairchild, Delta Wedding, Eudora Welty

Binx Bolling, The Moviegoer, Walker Percy

Blazes Boylan, Ulysses, James Joyce

Brackett Omensetter, The Sunlight Dialogues, William Gardner

Brick Pollitt, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Tennessee Williams

Brinker Hadley, A Separate Peace, John Knowles

Commerce St. Croix, The Lords of Discipline, Pat Conroy

Coverly Wapshot, The Wapshot Chronicle, John Cheever

Cross Damon, The Outsider, Richard Wright

Cutler Walpole, The Doctor’s Dilemma, George Bernard Shaw

Darl Bundren, As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner

Doremus Jessup, It Can’t Happen Here, Sinclair Lewis

Duddy Kravitz, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Mordecai Richler

Elyot Chase, Private Lives, Noel Coward

Ensor Doone, Lorna Doone, R. D Blackmore

Fenian McCreary, U.S.A., John Dos Passos

Finch McComus, You Never Can Tell, George Bernard Shaw

Florentino Ariza, Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Foxhall Edwards, You Can’t Go Home Again, Thomas Wolfe

Guitar Baines, Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison

Gulley Jimson, The Horse’s Mouth, Joyce Cary

Hoover Shoats, Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor

Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride, William Goldman

Japhy Ryder, Dharma Bums, JAck Kerouac

Jester Clane, The Ballad of the Sad Café, Carson McCullers

Jolyon Forsyte, The Forsyte Saga, John Galsworthy

Joxer Daly (nn), Juno and the Paycock, Sean O’Casey

Kilgore Trout, Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Leonce Pontellier, The Awakening, Kate Chopin

Manx Martin, Underworld, Don DeLillo

Melchior, Brideshead Revisited Evelyn Waugh

Orest Mercator, White Noise, Don DeLillo

Plinio Designiori, The Glass Bead Game, Herman Hesse

Rockingham Napier, Excellent Women, Barbara Pym

Seneca Doane, Arrowsmith, Sinclair Lewis

Soames Forsyte, The Forsyte Saga, John Galsworthy

Solace Layfield, Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor

Stingo, Sophie’s Choice, William Styron

Tadzio, Death in Venice, Thomas Mann

Taggert Hodge, The Sunlight Dialogues, John Gardner

Tradd St. Croix, The Lords of Discipline, Pat Conroy

Utah Watkins, Under Milk Wood, Dylan Thomas

Valerian Street, Tar Baby, Toni Morrison

Vivaldo Moore, The Amen Corner, James Baldwin

Weedon Scott, White Fang, Jack London

Wing Biddlebaum, Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson

Zoyd Wheeler, Vineland, Thomas Pynchon

Which, if any, of these are usable? Please feel free to add your own favorite quirky character names in the comments.

About the Author

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz is the co-founder of Nameberry, and co-author with Pamela Redmond of the ten baby naming books acknowledged to have revolutionized American baby naming. You can follow her personally at InstagramTwitter and Facebook. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed New York Review Books Classics novel Talk and a number of other books.