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Literary Sibsets–As in Amy, Beth, Meg & Jo

Octomom aside, most of us only have the opportunity to name a small number of children. Authors, on the other hand, can name family after family–including the parents. Some–like Jane Austen–were limited by the restricted supply of names available in their milieu, while others could let their imaginations soar.

I thought it might be fun (and instructive?) to look at some of the more prominent brother and sister sets in literature for possible ideas–though you could probably skip Wallstreet Panic.

SISTERS

Alcott, Little Woman

JOSEPHINE, MEG, BETH, AMY

Austen, Pride and Prejudice

JANE, ELIZABETH, MARY, CATHARINE (KITTY), LYDIA

Austen, Sense and Sensibility

ELINOR, MARIANNE, MARGARET

Chekhov, Three Sisters

OLGA, MASHA, IRINA

Dickens, Martin Chuzzlewit

CHARITY, MERCY (known as Cherry and Merry)

Eliot, Middlemarch

CELIA, DOROTHEA

Lawrence, The Rainbow, Women in Love

URSULA, GUDRUN

Mitchell, Gone With the Wind

SCARLETT (Katie Scarlett), SUELLEN (Susan Elinor), CARREEN (Caroline Irene)

Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire

STELLA, BLANCHE

Woody Allen, Hannah & Her Sisters

LEE, HANNAH, HOLLY

BROTHERS

Cheever, The Wapshot Chronicle

MOSES, COVERLY

Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

DMITRI (MITYA), IVAN, ALYOSHA

Dumas, The Corsican Brothers

LUCIEN, LOUIS

Faulkner, several novels

BILBO, VARDAMAN, CLARENCE, ST. ELMO, MONTGOMERY WARD

WALLSTREET PANIC, ADMIRAL DEWEY

VIRGIL, BYRON

Miller, Death of a Salesman

BIFF, HAPPY

O’Neill, Desire Under the Elms

EBEN, PETER, SIMEON

Shepard, Fool for Love

LEE, AUSTIN

Steinbeck, East of Eden

CALEB, ARON

MIXTURES

Barrie, Peter Pan

WENDY (invented), MICHAEL, JOHN

Dickens, A Christmas Carol

MARTHA, BELINDA, PETER, TIM

Faulkner, As I Lay Dying

CASH, DARL, JEWEL, DEWEY DELL, VARDAMAN

BENJAMIN, JASON, QUENTIN, CANDACE (Caddy)

Galsworthy, The Forsyte Saga

JOLYON (Jolly), IRENESOAMES, WINIFRED

Hardy, The Return of the Native

CLEMENT (Clym), THOMASIN

Hawthorne, The House of the Seven Gables

CLIFFORD, HEPZIBAH

James, The Turn of the Screw

FLORA, MILES

Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

JEREMY (Jem), JEAN LOUISE (Scout)

Salinger, Franny and Zooey and short stories

FRANNY (Frances), ZOOEY (Zachary), BUDDY (Webb), SEYMOUR, BEATRICE (Boo-Boo), WALTER, WAKER

Salinger, Catcher in the Rye

HOLDEN, PHOEBE, VIOLA, (Allie Vincent –siblings mentioned in other stories)

Shaw, Man and Superman

OCTAVIUS, VIOLET

Sidney, Five Little Peppers

BEN (Ebenezer), POLLY (Mary), JOEL, DAVID, PHRONSIE (Sophronia)

Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

TOM, ROSE OF SHARON, AL, NOAH, RUTHIE, WINFIELD

Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

SEBASTIAN, JULIA, CORDELIA

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40 Responses to “Literary Sibsets–As in Amy, Beth, Meg & Jo”

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realpraise Says:

May 1st, 2009 at 8:25 am

Lovely list! I like: Stella & Blanche, Virgil & Byron, and Flora & Miles.

Catherine Says:

May 1st, 2009 at 8:32 am

I immediately thought of to Pontipee boys from Seven Brides for Seven Brother:

Brothers:
Adam
Benjamin
Caleb
Daniel (Dan)
Ephraim
Frankinsence (Frank)
Gideon

ricamaca Says:

May 1st, 2009 at 9:33 am

Totally there with ya on the seven brothers! Its my favorite musical, and I’ve always thought of naming a boy Ephraim after that movie!

salifer Says:

May 1st, 2009 at 10:48 am

I love the list! On the Little Women part, though, you just listed the nicknames (save for Josephine and Amy). Really, it’s Margaret (nn Meg, and named after Marmee), and Elizabeth (nn Beth).

Jenny Says:

May 1st, 2009 at 11:19 am

I’d love to do the P&P thing with three or four girls and one or two cats. (Who would want to be named after Lydia?)

I also love the idea of Weasley names: Bill, Charlie, Percy, Fred, George, Ron and Ginevra.

But unlike sea turtles, we can’t choose the sex of our babies and I’m not sure I’d want Jane, Elizabeth and Murray.

Jill Says:

May 1st, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Great entry! 🙂 I’ve always loved the sibling names from Jane Eyre: Eliza, Genevieve, and John.

I LOVE the Pride and Prejudice names, too!

CountryLizB Says:

May 1st, 2009 at 1:44 pm

In Little Women, I believe Amy is short for Amelia.

KatieScarlett Says:

May 1st, 2009 at 8:25 pm

I also love the musical ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’ and appeciate the names in it Catherine and ricamaca.

Another set of sibling names appears in Sue Monk Kidd’s novel ‘The Secret Life of Bees’ (that has recently been made into a movie). The three sisters all have names inspired by the months of the year-August, May and June (the name of their late sister is April). I love the idea of connecting siblings through a common theme in their names or a common letter. I’m definitely doing it with my children’s names.

A few other sibling sets that I remember from literature are Laura, Mary and Carrie (short for Caroline) in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s ‘Little House on the Prairie’ books, Ramona and Beatrice (Beezus) from Beverly Cleary’s ‘Ramona’ series and Emma and Isabella from Jane Austen’s classic ‘Emma’. Happy naming everybody!

Gigi Says:

May 2nd, 2009 at 1:51 am

The Weasleys

William (Bill)
Charlie
Percy
Fred
George
Ronald (Ron)
Ginevra (Ginny)

Bill and Fleur’s Children

Victorie
Dominique
Louis

Percy and Audrey’s Children

Molly and Lucy

George and Angelina’s Children

Roxanne and Fred

Ronald and Hermione’s Children

Rose and Hugo

Ginny and Harry’s Children

James
Albus
Lily

Lola Says:

May 2nd, 2009 at 11:29 am

Flora & Miles is one of my favorite literary sibsets! Josephine, Margaret, Elizabeth & Amy (I’ve never noticed if it was short for anything) was probably the first literary sibset I liked. Octavius & Violet is an awesome pairing and of course, I have a very soft spot for “The Five Little Peppers” Fronsie has been a favorite for almost as long as the “Little Women” girls! But I have to admit, Ebenezer, Mary, Joel, David & Sophronia in full are pretty awesome as a whole.

Neat Post!

SophieGray Says:

May 2nd, 2009 at 11:31 am

Some of the names are lovely. Though many 18th/19th century/ Victorian literature writers chose similar names, they always seem to blend well together 🙂

Though I don’t particularly like either name, I’ve always liked the idea of Edgar & Isabella Linton (Wuthering Heights)

Oh! I thought I might mention – The Jane Eyre siblings names are John, Eliza & Georgiana, not Genevieve 🙂 I must say, I would prefer Genevieve though!

CountryLizB Says:

May 3rd, 2009 at 3:37 am

In the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ books Mary, Laura, and Carrie have a little sister named Grace. So it’s Mary, Laura, Caroline(Carrie), and Grace.

KatieScarlett Says:

May 3rd, 2009 at 4:50 am

Thanks CountryLizB, I forgot about Grace! Cheers:-)

Nephele Says:

May 3rd, 2009 at 6:59 am

I simply must add to your wonderful siblings list the sisters in my favorite children’s series: All of a Kind Family, by Sidney Taylor (1904-1978). (Linda, tell me you’ve read these books!)

Ella, Henny (Henrietta), Sarah, Charlotte, and Gertie (Gertrude). Little brother Charlie was born later in the series.

linda Says:

May 3rd, 2009 at 7:31 am

Ooh, I have to admit I haven’t. Maybe it’s not too late.

annie Says:

May 3rd, 2009 at 8:23 pm

When I was a little girl, I loved a book by Ann M. Martin called 10 Kids and No Pets. The mom had a system for naming the kids. Kid number 1 was named the first A name in the baby name book, kid number 2 was the second B name, kid number 3 was the third c name, etc.

These were the kids’ names:

Abigail
Bainbridge
Calandra
Dagwood
Eberhard
Faustine
Gardenia
Hannah
Ira
Janthina

CarolynR Says:

May 4th, 2009 at 2:28 am

From the much beloved Australian children’s classic Seven Little Australians, here are the nicknames and proper names of the Woolcott children:
Meg (Margaret)
Pip (Phillip)
Judy (Helen)
Nell (Elinor)
Bunty (John)
Baby (Winifred)
The General (Francis)
In many instances I prefer the nickname to the proper name!

Emmy Jo Says:

May 7th, 2009 at 9:00 pm

Great post idea. A few of my other favorite literary sibsets:

from Jane Austen’s “Northanger Abbey”:
Frederick, Henry, and Eleanor

from C.S. Lewis’s “Chronicles of Narnia”:
Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy

from Wilkie Collins’s “The Moonstone”:
Julia, Caroline, and Adelaide

Aurelia Says:

May 9th, 2009 at 1:33 pm

Did Barrie really invent the name Wendy? I never knew that!
I just finished reading East of Eden and have come to really like the name Aron…Cal and Aron go together well, and they ought to, since an entire chapter of the book is devoted to their naming.
From this list, I also like Eben, Peter and Simeon
and Sebastian, Julia, and Cordelia.

Sally Says:

May 9th, 2009 at 7:56 pm

I also love Daisy and Demi (Meg and John’s twins) from Little Women/Good Wives.

linda Says:

May 11th, 2009 at 11:04 am

Aurelia–Yes, Barrie really did invent Wendy–he took it from the nickname Fwendy-Wendy that a young acquaintance named Margaret Henley had given him.

ZigZag Says:

May 14th, 2009 at 9:33 am

My parents joked when my mom was pregnant with me that my name should be Holly because my older sister is Hannah. Thank god they were only joking.

If I had five daughters I would not be adverse to them being named after the Bennett sisters, simply because in America no one would really get it and they are all such lovely names (although I do prefer Katherine to Catharine).

Boston Girl Says:

May 21st, 2009 at 7:31 pm

I have a particular interest in this one, being an amateur writer. I’m always looking for new and interesting names…I think that’s how I first got into the whole name thing. I have to be careful not to go back to my favorites all the time, though, and I tend to give “bad” characters (villains, bullies, etc.) names I don’t like. 🙂

I think the sibset that appeals most to me from the list above is the Little Women. Their names could easily be given to a set of four sisters today. A few of my sibsets are as follows:

Leslie
Kristy
Kelly

Toni
Jackie
Kristen
Louisa

Arnulf
Carl Johan
Anna-Laura
Christian (these are my “royals”)

It often seems to me that a lot of sibset names don’t “match”. But then again, I’m sure others would feel that way about my sibsets. 🙂

stephanie_elizabeth Says:

June 16th, 2009 at 6:34 pm

They aren’t really sisters, but the four friends in Libba Bray’s book (and I have never heard of that first name before I saw the book) A Great and Terrible Beauty have lovely names: Gemma (love this one!), Felicity, Pippa, and Ann. Okay, I don’t really like Ann, but I like the others.

Kate Says:

September 1st, 2009 at 2:53 pm

What about the Boxcar Children?

Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny

Heather Says:

January 4th, 2010 at 3:25 am

Cheaper by the Dozen–
Anne, Mary, Ernestine, Martha, Frank, William, Lillian, Frederick, Daniel, John, Robert and Jane.

Courtney W. Says:

January 20th, 2010 at 2:23 am

The Bobbsey Twins series of books-
Bert and Nan, older twins
Freddie and Flossie (Florence?), younger twins

Aislinn Nicole Says:

April 22nd, 2010 at 7:53 am

I love the Narnia children’s names as well – Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. Classics, but lovely nonetheless.

A great literature source for odd ball sibling names is George R.R. Martin’s series “A Song of Ice and Fire” (book 1 is called A Game of Thrones). The Stark children around which the series is centered are:
– Jon, Robb, Bran, and Rickon (the boys); Sansa and Arya (the girls).

Jon and Robb might be overused by I loved the girls names, and Bran in particular. There’s also several other sets of siblings that feature in the book.

The original Stark siblings:
– Brandon, Eddard (the father of the above bunch), Lyanna, and Benjen.

Other siblings:
– Cersei (F), Jaime (M), and Tyrion (M)
– Arianne (F), Quentyn (M), and Trystane (M)

I’d just reccomend checking out the series if you’re interested in unique twists on classic names.

gracenote Says:

September 14th, 2010 at 1:26 pm

What about the names of the Large Family from A Little Princess? Or, at least, the names Sara imagined for them. Admittedly, the combinations are a whole lotta name but it’s definitely an imaginative sibset –

Ethelbertha Beauchamp
Violet Cholmondeley
Sidney Cecil Vivian
Lilian Evangeline Maud Marion
Rosalind Gladys
Guy Clarence
Veronica Eustacia
Claude Harold Hector

The “real” names of the characters were so disappointing after these…

starophie Says:

June 23rd, 2012 at 1:42 pm

I second the Large Family reference!!! Yes, weren’t the children really named things like Janet and Donald? Very disheartening for a budding namer =(

Also, not really a family, but I’ve always loved the collection of names of the orphans in “Annie!”

Oldest to youngest, I believe, looks like this:

Duffy
July
Annie
Pepper
Tessie
Kate
Molly

They always made me smile :3

sarahmezz Says:

January 30th, 2013 at 7:14 pm

annie – I loved Ten Kids No Pets too! That may have been where my interested in names started…

cmkmommy Says:

July 6th, 2013 at 9:58 am

I’ve always loved Jane Austen’s sibsets, so beautiful and classic. Harry Potter sibset are great too. Does anyone remember the Sweet Valley Twins books or the Baby-Sitters Club books that were popular in the 80s/90s? I loved those books as a kid.

Sweet Valley-
Steven
Elizabeth
Jessica

Baby Sitters Club-

Pike sibset:
Mallory
Adam
Byron
Jordan
Vanessa
Nicholas “Nicky”
Margo
Claire

Thomas sibset:
Charlie
Sam
Kristin “Kristy”
David Michael
Karen
Andrew
Emily Michelle

mysoutherncomfortzone Says:

October 20th, 2013 at 2:56 am

There was a book series I loved in middle school, The Winnie Years, and I always thought the main character and her siblings had cool names.
They were Sandra, Winnie (Winifred), Ty (Tyler), and Maggie (Magnolia Grace).

lovingElizabeth Says:

November 30th, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Well obviously I love all the Weasley’s names, but most especially:
Charlie
Victorie
Lucy
And then I love Lily Luna (although technically she’s a Potter)

I also love Jonas and Lily from The Giver along with Jem and Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird
Then Jamie and Nicholas, from The House of the Spirits. I think it’s perfect twin set, if I ever had twin boys I would want to use these.
And I know it’s not a book, but Haley, Alex and Luke from Modern Family.

ThursdayGirl Says:

December 1st, 2013 at 7:06 am

In Jane Eyre the brothers name is not actually John, it is St..John which they pronounce SinJin. I tried to talk my husband into using it.

linda Says:

December 1st, 2013 at 11:37 am

@ThursdayGirl–I know a St. John who got so frustrated with mispronunciations that he finally changed the spelling of his name to Sinjin.

kitchi1 Says:

March 5th, 2014 at 9:34 pm

Who could forget The Outsiders?
Darryl “Darry”, Sodapop, and Ponyboy!

bennyboo Says:

July 25th, 2014 at 10:46 am

Meg, Jo, and Beth’s real names are Margaret, Josephine, and Elizabeth.

steampunkleo Says:

April 18th, 2015 at 2:17 am

Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy is by far my favourite sibset in any book (C.S.Lewis – Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe)

Hugo and Rose from Harry Potter by JK Rowing

Zuko and Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender. They’re both made up names, but I love the fact that they share the -zu sound.

Poppy and Phillip from Night World series (forgot the author)

Bellamy and Octavia from The 100

I’m sure that there’s more but that’s all I can think of from the top of my head

snowsbeloved Says:

November 5th, 2015 at 2:33 am

@ThursdayGirl Actually the above poster had it right. There are two separate sibsets in Jane Eyre.

The Reed family:
John
Eliza (short for Elizabeth?)
Georgiana

The Rivers family:
St.John
Diana
Mary

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