Southern Names: From Faulkner, Tennessee Williams and more
There’s something unique about Southern names, with their smooshes of two girls’ names together, unusual nickname names and old-gentleman surname names, as well as classic appellations dating back to slave-naming traditions, that sets them apart from say, typically New England or Midwestern names.
So here are some interesting choices from books and plays by Southern writers about characters in Southern settings, from classics by George W. Cable and William Faulkner to more modern works like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
Castalia—Allan Gurganus, Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All
Idabel—Truman Capote, Other Voices, Other Rooms
Alcée—Kate Chopin, The Awakening
Léonce—Kate Chopin, The Awakening
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on September 9th, 2011 at 1:18 am
Looking at this list, I’ve concluded that the only thing better than Southern names are Southern book titles. Plus they have names hidden within them–Beaulah, Moses, Absalom, Tiffany.
on September 9th, 2011 at 8:41 am
What about Siddalee from “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood”, Idgie and Buddy from “Fried Green Tomatoes at The Whistlestop Cafe” and Rucker from “Cold Sassy Tree.” All cute, Southern fried names.
on September 9th, 2011 at 8:57 am
I profiled Sully today, too! Fantastic name. And this is a fantastic list! I must say, though, that I never encountered most of these in all my years growing up in the South, and I encountered many, many uniquely southern names. I think Literature names are just in a class of their own, a beautiful, beautiful class.
I’ll list some of my favorites from home. and you of course have to put Ms. or Mr. in front of the *first* names, because that’s how they’re always addressed. and ALL of the double names are kept in tact:
Sarah Claire (Sally)
Bettylou (3 of them)
Ann Bruce (2)
Frankie (by way of Frances)
on September 9th, 2011 at 9:31 am
Is Meridian male or female? I love the sound of it. My other favorite from the list is Temple but I don’t know if I would be brave enough to use it. It’s not a name for everyone!
on September 9th, 2011 at 10:05 am
Great post! Southern names are the best, not that I’m biased or anything! :p
@Marginamia – I adore double names! They are almost expected in my neck of the woods for girls. When I was younger I thought they were hokey and “old lady” but now on a child I think they are so endearing! They run rampant in my own family and my cousins and I are upholding the tradition. Some of our grandmothers/great aunts/ect names are
Cricket Lee (!)
We’re taking a modern twist on the tradition. My cousin, Cheri Kay, recently named her little girl Kenzie Kay, and my other cousin, Brandi Anne, named her girl Zoe River nn Zoe Riv. If my little bun in the oven turns out to be a girl, we’re naming her Josephine Wren nn Jovie Wren!
on September 9th, 2011 at 11:25 am
Calpurnia really makes me smile but to my OH, Calpurnia was his beloved childhood kitty. Off limits to me. But He’s allowing Portia in the middle (to lessen possible “piggy” teasing), so I happily go along.
Idgie was Imogen (or Imogene, I forget). Neat nickname.
Celie’s on our list for a girl, it would be Cecily’s main nickname.
from the boys, Binx, Cash & Tull all have that abrupt stop I love in a boys name. Ignatius is a family name for me & Rufus is just behind Rex on our boy list!
There are a bunch of Southern names we love! 🙂
on September 9th, 2011 at 2:39 pm
Forgot to mention, Faulkner is one of my very favorite occupation names! means “one who cares for Hawks”. how awesome is that!?! 🙂
on September 9th, 2011 at 3:44 pm
I recently noticed that a lot of my sister’s friends have southern sounding names (We do live in the south)- Lillie Jo, Whitney Grace, Danner (family surname)
on September 9th, 2011 at 5:00 pm
@Marginamia–Your list is so fun, it reminds me of an old episode of “The Simpsons” where the country singer Lurleen had siblings named Vonda Mae and Piney Jo.
on September 9th, 2011 at 6:54 pm
Tull is actually the surname of Cora and Vernon in As I Lay Dying, so not a character.
I also really like Jewel, Cora, Addie and Samson from As I Lay Dying.
And Maribelle, Frankie, Idabel, Sapphia, Verena, Cash, Chance, Emmet, Josiah, and Rufus.
on September 10th, 2011 at 12:25 am
What about Dewey Dell?
on September 13th, 2011 at 1:57 am
Beautiful names on this list…
Ada – on my list
Eliza – on my list
Leora – my sister’s name <3
Meridian – love this name
Ignatius – oh this name is great!
Loch – nice strong name
on September 14th, 2011 at 1:17 pm
From Bastard out of Carolina by Dorothea Allison–for girls Carr, Alma, Reese (a girl in the book but I have a nephew named Reese)…Grey and Garvey for boys
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