Names from Nancy Drew & Other Storybook Series

When I was a kid I was a huge fan of Nancy Drew mysteries. And though I certainly appreciated the girl detective’s keen powers of deduction, I was also fascinated (surprise, surprise) by the names of the characters, which to me, growing up in my little ethnic enclave of New York City, seemed to be part of another, exotic world. Fathers with names like Carter and Fenton. Kids called Polly and Penny and Nan and Ned. And a girl–Nancy‘s best friend–named George! (A portent of blogs to come?)

There were dozens and dozens of mystery and adventure series dating back to the 1890s and continuing into the 1960s and 70s. In those pre-Harry Potter days, such children’s books were presented along strictly drawn gender lines: there were very much girls’ books and boys’ books. Most of the heroes had straightforward names like Tom (there were a lot of Toms) and Frank, and many of the girls were Betsy and Sue, but some of them did have interesting, unusual appellations, or at least seem that way to us now. So I’ve done a little sleuthing of my own and come up with the following:

GIRLS

BABS, Ginny Gordon series
BESSIE, Boxcar Children Mysteries
CALLIE, The Hardy Boys
CHALICE, Vicki Barr Flight Stewardess
CHERRY (CHARITY), Cherry Ames series
DINAH, The Bobbsey Twins
FLOSSIE, The Bobbsey Twins
GEORGE, Nancy Drew
HONEY, Judy Bolton Mystery Series, Trixie Belden, Ginny Gordon
INA, The Dana Girls
IOLA, The Hardy Boys
JOSIE, Anne Shirley series, Cherry Ames series
JULIANA, Trixie Belden
LENORA, Beverly Gray College Mystery series
LETTIE, The Dana Girls
LUCIA, Cherry Ames
MARILLA, Anne Shirley series
MITZI, Chip Hilton Sports Adventures
NAN, The Bobbsey Twins
NANINE, Cherry Ames
PENNY, Penny Parker Mysteries
POLLY, Polly Brewster, Polly Prentiss, Polly French series
RUBY, Anne Shirley series
SOPHRONIA (called Phronsie), The Five Little Peppers series
TRIXIE (Beatrix), Trixie Belden series
VIOLET, The Boxcar Children series

BOYS

ASA, The Hardy Boys
BIFF, The Hardy Boys, Biff Brewster series
BRICK, Don Sturdy series
BRONC, Bronc Burnett sereis
BUNCE, Cherry Ames series
CARSON, Nancy Drew
CHIP, Chip Hilton series
FENTON, The Hardy Boys
GILES, The Hardy Boys
GULLIVER, Tom Quest Adventures
HARTSON, Rick Brant series
HECTOR, Horatio Alger
HORATIO, Horatio Alger
HURD, The Hardy Boys
JADBURY, The Hardy Boys
JASPER, Horatio Alger
JED, Horatio Alger
MARIUS, Cherry Ames series
NED, Nancy Drew, Horatio Alger, The Motor Boys, The Hardy Boys
RUFUS, Horatio Alger
RUPERT, Horatio Alger
SILAS, Horatio Alger
VALENTINE, Horatio Alger
WADE, Cherry Ames series
WHIZ, Tom Quest Adventures, Ginny Gordon

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6 Responses to “Names from Nancy Drew & Other Storybook Series”

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Lola Says:

February 12th, 2009 at 10:06 am

Oh, I love these! I started reading voraciously as a child, and except for the Kay Tracey series, you’ve got them all! Kay, Betty, Wilma, Bill & Ethel. I had all 18 until I moved the third time. I miss those.

Of the others, Sophronia/Fronsie, Beatrix/Trixie, Bessie, Dinah, Josie!, Lettie (even though she was “the bad girl”), Penny & Violet are all super familiar and in most instances where the name “came from” for me.

The boys- My brother read The Hardy Boys, not I, but Horatio Alger was a favorite: Hector, Horatio, Jasper, Rufus!, Rupert, Silas, Valentine are all super favorites and I have a soft spot for Nancy’s Ned!

This list makes me want to go find Kay Tracey again and re-read the others. Is Cherry Ames still in print? Does anyone know?

susan Says:

February 12th, 2009 at 12:57 pm

I was never into detective stories but I read so many children’s books when I was young. Many of my favorite names came from those books. Peter-Narnia books. Philip-“A Dog of Flanders and Other Stories” by Ouida (Louisa de la Rame). Tommy-Dr. Doolittle. Anthea-E. Nesbitt. Veronica- I think Mary Sachs who wrote Peter and Veronica. She is funny! Caroline-Laura Ingalls Wilder. Jane-Charlotte Bronte. I could go on and on!

Esme Says:

February 12th, 2009 at 5:03 pm

Beatrix is just beautiful!

Jill Says:

February 12th, 2009 at 5:28 pm

Okay. I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that this post pertains to all names from books, regardless of literary genre. Many of my favorite names are from books I read as a litte girl, including:

Anne: Anne of Green Gables
Emmeline: Anne of Green Gables
Josephine: Anne of Green Gables/ Little Women
Grace: Little House
Caroline: Little House
Charles: Little House
Eliza: Little House
Louisa: Author of Little Women
Abigail: (Before it became trendy….) Little Women
Elizabeth: Little Women

Abby Says:

February 13th, 2009 at 6:23 am

What a great list! Like Lola, I’ve devoured most of these.

As for Cherry Ames, I don’t know if she’s still in print, but she’s the reason my mother became a nurse! I had no idea Cherry was short for Charity. I think that’s my new favorite bit of name trivia for 2009!

المجلة العربية » Archives du Blog » NAMES FROM NANCY DREW & OTHER STORYBOOK SERIES – Baby Name Blog … Says:

July 7th, 2009 at 12:28 pm

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