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Literary Baby Names in the News

June 28, 2015 Abby Sandel

By Abby Sandel

Let’s talk literary baby names.

Jennifer Love Hewitt’s new son has a name borrowed from one of the hottest sources of baby name inspiration today: the 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

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.

The current Number 1 name for girls comes from Jane Austen’s Emma, first published in 1815.

Even in our age of modern inventions like Jaxson and Skylar, plenty of parents stick to the classics – in baby names and literature, too.

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.

What are your favorite literary names, for boys and girls? What do you think of Atticus James and Frances Harper?

About the author

Abby

Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at namesage@nameberry.com.

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