Literary Names: Fitzgerald names beyond the great Gatsby

The spirit of Francis Scott Fitzgerald  is alive and well.  In the baby name world, Gatsby is one of the new attention-grabbing names on the block.  In the world of entertainment, there is the theater piece Gatz, and now there’s eager anticipation for the latest version of The Great Gatsby, directed by Baz Lurmann and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire and Isla Fisher,which is  scheduled to open at the end of the year.  A propitious time, then, to look at the author’s approach to literary  names.

Fitzgerald’s novels and stories are populated with people with ordinary names like Nick and Dick, with typical Jazz Age period choices such as Bernice and Rosalind and Marjorie for girls, Chester and Percy for men, and a number of sophisticated Princetonesque surnames.  He played with name changes reflecting shifting identities as well—Jay Gatsby having been born James Gatz.

Fitzgerald also made some interesting and highly unusual choices—some of which were ahead of their time—and here are the most provocative examples, from the novels and the endless series of short stories he churned out to survive :


Amanthus—from the story Dice, Brass Knuckles and Guitar

Ardiota from The Offside Pirate

ArlieThe Last of the Belles

Axia—This Side of Paradise

BirdyLove of the Last Tycoon

Cecilia –This Side of Paradise–  Fitzgerald liked this name so much he used it three times—but with two different spellings—in Love of the Last Tycoon and the short story Coward, the character’s name was the less common version Cecelia (actually the spelling of Pam and Jim’s baby on The Office). 

EdeThe Baby Party —This is the toddler daughter of an Edith, making it hard to know if this was her full name or a nickname of her mother’s.

Ermine (aka Minnie), in several Basil and Josephine stories


Hepezia—Pain and the Scientist

HildegardeThe Curious Case of Benjamin Button– Fitzgerald chose a Germanic name for the wife of reverse-aging Benjamin—curious as her last name, Moncrief, is anything but.  Hildegarde is scarcely heard today—when even short form Hilda is a rarity.

HonoriaBabylon Revisited (Honoria was the name of the daughter of Fitzgerald’s great friends, Gerald and Sara Murphy.)

Jannekin—Family in the Wind


JobinaThe Perfect Life

JonquilThe Sensible Thing

JordanThe Great GatsbyJordan was unheard of as a girl’s name when the book appeared in 1925; in fact, it didn’t reach the Top 1000 list until 1978.

Kismine –The Diamond as Big as the Ritz

MariceFirst Blood

Mercia—The Rubber Check

MusidoraThe Dance

Nicole –Tender in the Night Though it sounds far from unusual now, it certainly was in 1934 when the book was published—Nicole didn’t enter the US Top 1000 until eight years later.

SigourneyThe Great Gatsby –the inspiration for Susan Weaver’s name change

TudyImage in the Heart

ViennaThe Bowl

Yanci—The Popular Girl


Amory –This Side of Paradise

Bomar—The Honor of the Goon

Book—The Woman from Twenty-One

Bradogue –The Love of the Last Tycoon

BreckDiamond Dick and the First Law of Women

Brickthe Basil and Josephine stories

Brunswick—Mightier Than the Sword

BurneThis Side of Paradise

Carpenter—That Kind of Party

Carty—The Popular Girl

Caxton—The Intimate Strangers

ChaunceyThe Adjuster

CollisTender is the Night

Crenshaw—The Fiend

Draycott—Bernice Bobs Her Hair

Ewing –The Great Gatsby

HamiltonThe Bridal Party

HoraceHead and Shoulders

Jebby –The Bridal Party

Knowleton—Myra Meets the Family

Lincoln Babylon Revisited

LlewellynThe Adjuster

MadisonDice, Brass Knuckles and Guitarwhen it was unheard of for girls

Mayall—The Captured Shadow

MerlinHe Thinks He’s Wonderful

MonroeThe Love of the Last Tycoon

Oates—The Honor of the Goon

Orrison—The Long Way Out

Roscoe –The Curious Case of Benjamin ButtonBenjamin and Hildegarde‘s son

RoyalTender is the Night

RudolphAbsolution—The character of Rudolph Miller is considered to be a precursor of Jay Gatsby

San JuanPresumption

Satterly—Inside the House

Tanaduke—This Side of Paradise

ThayerThis Side of Paradise

TudorThe Beautiful and the Damned

Waldron—The Smilers

WesselTarquin of Cheepside (we’ll take Tarquin over Wessel)

Wister–Six of One

Frances Scott Key Fitzgerald himself was, of course,  named for the composer of The Star Spangled Banner, who was a distant cousin of his; Scott was also the surname of his deceased older sister.  The name Zelda has long been associated with Fitzgerald’s colorful wife.  Their only child, Frances Scott Fitzgerald, was always known as Scottie.

And if you want to be reminded why The Great Gatsby is so great, just read this.

Any interesting discoveries here?

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4 Responses to “Literary Names: Fitzgerald names beyond the great Gatsby”

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miloowen Says:

June 14th, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Tarquin and Jonquil, two wonderful names, of course revealing my upbringing in blue blood New England….

I hated the novel Gatsby in high school, one of the few novels of Am lit that I read and really, really didn’t like (the other was Farewell to Arms — I was more of a Dreiser/Wharton/James fan). As part of our summer reading program, I reread it because I was monitoring questions over the summer — I was then 50 — and fell in love with it. So while Fitzgerald is still not my favourite Am lit author, I reread him that summer and found that I really enjoyed the experience.

Madelyn Says:

May 14th, 2013 at 2:33 pm

I love the name Llewellyn, but I don’t think there is one in “The Adjuster.” I do remember a Luella and an Ede, however, two lovely names.

studiotilly Says:

May 31st, 2014 at 3:24 am

Without trying to sound rude; it seems like a rather incomplete list. My son is called Lupin, and I’ve been trying to get this name in the Nameberry archives for a long time now. There was a Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter series, and a Lupin Pooter in George and Weedon Grossmith’s comic novel The Diary of a Nobody (1892).

Then there’s Hyde as in Mr. Hyde, evil alter ego of Dr. Jeckyll, which I think is a perfectly nice and classy name within this theme.

And how about Orson, as a reference to Orson Welles and even Winnie the Pooh, as it means Bear in French.

This list deserves to be so much longer. I’m hoping for a renewed one in a couple of months. 🙂

linda Says:

May 31st, 2014 at 5:18 pm

@studiotilly–This list was just confined to characters in Fitzgerald novels, not a general literary characters one.

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