Literary Baby Names: The Hemingway family tree

Literary Baby Names: The Hemingway family tree

By Meagan Burke

Ernest Hemingway was one of the most influential American writers of the 20th century, both as a Nobel Prize- winning author and as a legendary personality. His novels continue to be read and studied, while his life and family tragedies are still written and talked about. Let’s take a look at names from the Hemingway family tree.


Ernest Miller Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois, on July 21, 1899.

The name Ernest was Number 27 in 1899 when Hemingway was born and is currently at 880. It comes from a German name meaning serious. Oscar Wilde created one of the most notable characters named Ernest in his play, The Importance of Being Earnest. With so many vintage names making a comeback, is there a place for Ernest?


Miller is an English occupational name, meaning grinder of grain. At 876 in popularity, it’s a familiar surname that has risen over the past three years as a first name. Stella McCartney used it for her son, Miller Alasdhair James Willis in 2005.


I’ve always thought there was something particularly romantic about the sound of this literary surname. Also a place name, from the medieval English “Hemming’s path,” Hemingway would be inevitably associated with the writer.

Parents & Siblings

Ernest was the second of six children born to Dr. Clarence Edmonds Hemingway and Grace Hall Hemingway.

Clarence has fallen even further out of fashion than Ernest. A Latin name meaning bright, it always reminds me of George Bailey’s guardian angel in the film, It’s a Wonderful Life. Clarence Hemingway went by the nickname “Ed.”

Grace is still widely used at Number 21, perhaps even higher as a middle name. An English virtue name, Grace not only has a great meaning but also the classy association to timeless beauty, Grace Kelly.

Ernest had one brother and four sisters in the following birth order: Marcelline (b.1898), Ernest (1899), Ursula (1902), Madelaine (1904), Carol (1911), and Leicester Clarence (1915).

Marcelline is French from the Latin, meaning dedicated to Mars.  Marcelline, pronounced mahr-say-LEEN has never been in the Top 1000 but would be a lovely way to honor a Marcia.

Ursula comes from the Latin Ursa, meaning little female bear.  Although this name has an adorable meaning, it is often overlooked due to its close association with the villain in Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

Madelaine Hemingway went by the nickname “Sunny.”  Madelaine is a French name meaning high tower or woman from Magdala. Although it is seldom used in the US, the traditional spelling Madeleine is currently Number 283.

Carol is an English name related to Charles, meaning free man, and is also a word name referring to a song or hymn. Originally a male name, Carol became popular for girls in the late 1930s, but has not been in the Top 1000 for either sex since 2006.

Leicester**, pronounced Lester,** is a rarely used English place name. Neither Lester nor Leicester seem quite due for a comeback.  Lester peaked in 1906 when it was Number 52, but fell out of the top 1000 in 2009.

Ernest Hemingway’s Wives

Ernest Hemingway had four wives as well as several rumored mistresses.

Elizabeth Hadley Richardson, known as Hadley, was Hemingway’s first wife.Hadley is an English unisex surname, meaning heather field.  Similar in sound to names like Hailey and Hattie, Hadley has been climbing the charts, especially since the publication of the novel The Paris Wife. Hadley is currently by far the most popular it has ever been for girls at spot Number 99.

Pauline Marie Pfeiffer was Hemingway’s second wife.Pauline was popular in the 1920’s and 30’s but has steadily declined since the forties. Last year Vin Diesel used it for his daughter, in honor of his late friend and co-star, Paul Walker.

Martha Ellis Gellhorn was wife #3.Martha is an Aramaic name, meaning lady or mistress, and was a Top 50 name from 1900 to 1954. Currently Number 735, Martha is tightly associated with first First Lady, Martha Washington.

Mary Welsh was Hemingway’s fourth wife and widow.Mary is one of the most classic and timeless female names, Number 1 from before 1880 through 1946, and currently at Number 120. Mary is a Hebrew name, meaning bitter, often passed down for familial and religious ties.

Hemingway’s Sons

Ernest Hemingway had three children, all boys.

John Hadley Nicanor “JackHemingway was the oldest son with his first wife, Hadley Richardson.  As a young child, his parents affectionately called him “Bumby.”Jack is a common diminutive of John, meaning God is gracious. Actor Val Kilmer and Chef Gordon Ramsay are just two of the many celebrities that have used the name for their sons.

Patrick Hemingway is Ernest’s second son, the first from his marriage to Pauline Pfeiffer
Patrick is often thought to be an Irish name, because of Saint Patrick, though it is actually Latin. Patrick means nobleman or patrician.  Currently Number 153, it has never ranked lower than 166 in popularity.

Gregory Hancock Hemingway is the third and youngest son with Pauline Pfieffer.  He went by many nicknames, including Greg, Gig, Gigi, and Gloria.Gregory is a Greek name meaning watchful.  Once associated with actor Peck, modern parents may be more inclined to use a name with a similar sound such as Gregor or Grey.

Hemingway’s Grandchildren

Jack Hemingway married Byra “Puck” L. Whittlesey.  Together they had three daughters.  Joan “Muffet,” Margot LouiseMargaux”, and Mariel Hadley.

Joan was Number 40 in 1950 when Joan Hemingway was born.  Her family pet name was “Muffet.”

Margot is a French diminutive of Margaret meaning pearl.  Margaux Hemingway adopted this new spelling of her name after she learned she was named for the wine, Château Margaux, which her parents drank the night she was conceived.

Mariel is one of the many wonderful names derived from Mary; she was named after a favorite Cuban fishing village of her grandfather.  This melodic name was only briefly in the Top 1000 from 1985-1994. Mariel has two interestingly named daughters, Dree and Langley Fox .

Patrick Hemingway had one child, an adopted daughter named Mina.

Mina is often a diminutive of longer names such as Wilhelmina, and is perhaps best known as a character in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  Currently Number 687, Mina has risen nearly 200 spots in the last 10 years.

Gregory Hemingway married 5 times, twice to the same woman.  He had eight children, including an adopted stepson – Lorian, John, Brendan, Maria, Patrick, Sean, Edward, and Vanessa.

Lorian is a combination of the names Laura, meaning bay laurel, and Ann, meaning grace.  This spelling is quite rare. Lorian has a daughter named Cristen.

John Patrick Hemingway was named for his two uncles

Brendan is a hearty Irish name that means prince. A top name in the 1990s, the popularity of similar sounding name like Brayden, may have contributed to Brendan’s decline to Number 351.

Maria, the Latin form of Mary and well-loved  globally, is now at Number 115 in the US, more popular than Mary by 5 spots.

Patrick is a name we see repeated in the Hemingway family tree.

Sean is an Irish form of John that started gaining attention in the mid-1960s and stayed popular through the late 90s; is currently still at Number 193.

Edward is an English classic meaning wealthy guardian.  Two modern pop culture Edwards are Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands and Edward Cullen from Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series.

Vanessa is a name invented by writer Jonathan Swift. Also the name of a species of butterfly, it currently ranks at Number 171.

What are your favorite names from the Hemingway family tree?

About the Author



Meagan, also known as TulipByAnyName, is an artist, a vlogger, a blogger, and of course a baby name enthusiast! She loves exploring everything from literary names to celebrity baby names. You can hear her talk about names on her YouTube channel or visit her blog \n