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.
Alcott, Little Woman
Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Austen, Sense and Sensibility
Chekhov, Three Sisters
Dickens, Martin Chuzzlewit
Mitchell, Gone With the Wind
Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire
Woody Allen, Hannah & Her Sisters
Cheever, The Wapshot Chronicle
Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Dumas, The Corsican Brothers
Faulkner, several novels
WALLSTREET PANIC, ADMIRAL DEWEY
Miller, Death of a Salesman
O’Neill, Desire Under the Elms
Shepard, Fool for Love
Steinbeck, East of Eden
Barrie, Peter Pan
Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Galsworthy, The Forsyte Saga
JOLYON (Jolly), IRENESOAMES, WINIFRED
Hardy, The Return of the Native
CLEMENT (Clym), THOMASIN
James, The Turn of the Screw
Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Salinger, Catcher in the Rye
Shaw, Man and Superman
Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
Waugh, Brideshead Revisited
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on May 1st, 2009 at 8:25 am
Lovely list! I like: Stella & Blanche, Virgil & Byron, and Flora & Miles.
on May 1st, 2009 at 8:32 am
I immediately thought of to Pontipee boys from Seven Brides for Seven Brother:
on 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!
on 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).
on 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.
on 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!
on May 1st, 2009 at 1:44 pm
In Little Women, I believe Amy is short for Amelia.
on 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!
on May 2nd, 2009 at 1:51 am
Bill and Fleur’s Children
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
on 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.
on 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!
on 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.
on May 3rd, 2009 at 4:50 am
Thanks CountryLizB, I forgot about Grace! Cheers:-)
on 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.
on May 3rd, 2009 at 7:31 am
Ooh, I have to admit I haven’t. Maybe it’s not too late.
on 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:
on 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:
The General (Francis)
In many instances I prefer the nickname to the proper name!
Emmy Jo Said
on 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
on 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.
on May 9th, 2009 at 7:56 pm
I also love Daisy and Demi (Meg and John’s twins) from Little Women/Good Wives.
on 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.
on 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 Said
on 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:
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. 🙂
on 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.
on September 1st, 2009 at 2:53 pm
What about the Boxcar Children?
Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny
on 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. Said
on 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 Said
on 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.
– 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.
on 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 –
Sidney Cecil Vivian
Lilian Evangeline Maud Marion
Claude Harold Hector
The “real” names of the characters were so disappointing after these…
on 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:
They always made me smile :3
on 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…
on 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.
Baby Sitters Club-
on 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).
on November 30th, 2013 at 2:37 pm
Well obviously I love all the Weasley’s names, but most especially:
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.
on 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.
on 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.
on March 5th, 2014 at 9:34 pm
Who could forget The Outsiders?
Darryl “Darry”, Sodapop, and Ponyboy!
on July 25th, 2014 at 10:46 am
Meg, Jo, and Beth’s real names are Margaret, Josephine, and Elizabeth.
on 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
on 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:
Eliza (short for Elizabeth?)
The Rivers family:
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