Literary Baby Names in the News
By Abby Sandel
Let’s talk literary baby names.
Noah Wyle’s new daughter has a Mockingbird middle. Her first is associated with a beloved children’s author, too, whose most famous works date to the early twentieth century, as well as with the heroine of J.D. Salinger’s famous story Franny and Zooey.
Nothing says that twenty-first century writing can’t inspire great names. Plenty of novels from today are rich with interesting possibilities.
Let’s take a look at nine literary baby names, with ties to the great works of yesteryear, as well as some current favorites.
Frances – Ladylike Frances is following buttoned-up girl names like Eleanor and Caroline up the popularity charts. Now it’s the name Noah Wyle and new wife Sara Wells have given to their daughter. Wyle is also dad to son Owen and daughter Auden – as in the poet – from a previous marriage. Frances brings to mind A Little Princess author Frances Hodgson Burnett. And her middle name is Harper – as in the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, and one of the fastest-rising names of the last decade.
Atticus – Jennifer Love Hewitt is the latest celebrity parent to borrow the name of legendary fictional lawyer Atticus Finch for her son. Actors Casey Affleck and Daniel Baldwin have sons by the name. No Doubt’s Tom Dumont named his second son Rio Atticus. This new Atticus joins big sister Autumn at home. The siblings share the same middle name, James.
Huck – Mark Twain invented Huckleberry Finn for an 1876 novel. Huck got a spinoff of his own, 1884’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and both boys appeared in additional sequels. Tom is a classic boy’s name. Finn and Sawyer have caught on in recent years. Could Huck be next? The name was given to 67 boys in 2014, plus another 21 Huckleberrys. Here’s a birth announcement for a recent Huck Alan.
Cora – James Fenimore Cooper created the name Cora for his 1826 novel The Last of the Mohicans. It’s wildly popular today, a successor to Nora and Clara, boosted by Downton Abbey’s gracious Countess of Grantham, Cora Crawley. Names for Real recently spotted a birth announcement for Cora Luna.
Luna – Not every literary baby name comes from nineteenth century literature. Luna is every bit as stylish as vintage Cora, and saw some use back in the 1880s. But this nature name’s big boost was J.K. Rowling’s eccentric witch and unlikely heroine Luna Lovegood. Luna first appeared in 2003’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. That same year, Luna cracked the US Top 1000, and has been climbing ever since. Penelope Cruz has a Luna. So does Uma Thurman. Waltzing More than Matilda spotted a Luna Marianne in an Australian birth announcement.
Holden – File Holden closer to Mockingbird than Harry Potter. J.D. Salinger’s tale of disaffected youth was first published in 1951. Holden Caulfield is one of the most recognizable literary characters of all time, but the name didn’t catch on until soap opera As the World Turns introduced its own Holden in the 1980s. Tulip By Any Name just featured Holden as one of the names of the week. Actors Brendan Fraser and Rick Schroeder have sons by the name, as does Backstreet Boy Howie Dorough.
Earl – Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was a smash at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and is currently in theaters across the US. Before it was a movie, it was a 2013 novel by Jesse Andrews. It makes this list because Earl has been sliding for years. Could this be the beginning of a reversal? The noble Duke is back. Earl might be ready to shed his hayseed image.
Quill – Not every literary name comes from a character. Geek Names featured Quill this week. It made that blog thanks to uses in Guardians of the Galaxy and X-Men. But Quill could be quite the writerly name, as good a choice for an author’s kid as Cadence is for a musician’s child.
Alice – No list of literary baby names would be complete without Lewis Carroll’s immortal Alice. Another big screen installment of the classic story is coming in 2016. Other novels and movies to use the name include Still Alice and What Alice Forgot – neither of which takes place in Wonderland, proving that Alice is as great a name for a grown-up and for a curious girl. Alice returned to the US Top 100 in 2014 after six decades’ absence.
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on June 28th, 2015 at 11:01 pm
English major/English teacher, lots!
Erle Stanley Gardener
Louisa May (Alcott)
Amandine/Solange (George Sand)
And many more!
on June 29th, 2015 at 6:40 am
@lesliemarion – AMAZING list! Love Bramwell, Bronte, Thoreau … nevermind, I just love the list. 🙂
on June 29th, 2015 at 12:20 pm
I named my daughter Katharine Scarlett last year. It wasn’t intended to be a literary reference but a few people have asked me if it was.
on March 23rd, 2018 at 4:02 pm
I met a boy last year named Sundance. Like the Sundance Kid. I get that typically it’s for girls, but I thought it was interesting.
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