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Unique Southern Names

Unique Southern Names

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.

Since we’ve covered Gone With the Wind and To Kill a Mockingbird pretty thoroughly before, you won’t find Scarlett or Ashley or Atticus in this list; here are some less familiar finds.

Girl Names

Ada—Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain

Alma—Tennessee Williams, Summer and Smoke

Amanda—Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie

Blanche—Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire

Calpurnia—Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Castalia—Allan Gurganus, Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All

Celie— Alice Walker, The Color Purple

Chablis—John Berendt, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Clytie (Clytemnesta)– William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom

Dabney— Eudora Welty, Delta Wedding

Dilsey– William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

Dorinda—Ellen Glasgow, Barren Ground

Eliza—Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward Angel

Frankie—Carson McCullers, The Member of the Wedding

Heavenly—Tennessee Williams, Sweet Bird of Youth

Idabel—Truman Capote, Other Voices, Other Rooms

Leafy—Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

Leora—Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood

Louvinia—William Faulkner, The Unvanquished

Maribelle—Tennessee Williams, Sweet Bird of Youth

Mayella—Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Meridian—Alice Walker, Meridian

Narcissa, William Faulkner, Sartoris

Nonnie—Lillian Smith, Strange Fruit

Peyton—William Styron, Lie Down in Darkness

Portia—Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Rosacoke—Reynolds Price, A Long and Happy Life

Sabbath—Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood

Salome– Eudora Welty, The Robber Bridegroom

Sapphia—Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Temple—William Faulkner, Sanctuary

Tolitha—Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides

Verena—Truman Capote, The Grass Harp

Boy Names

Alcée—Kate Chopin, The Awakening

Battle—Eudora Welty, Delta Wedding

Bayard, William Faulkner, The Unvanquished

Beau—Ernest Gaines, A Gathering of Old Men

Binx–Walker Percy, The Moviegoer

Bogan—Robert Penn Warren, At Heaven’s Gate

Brick— Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Cash—William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying

Chance—Tennessee Williams, Sweet Bird of Youth

Dabney— Eudora Welty, Delta Wedding

Darl— William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying

Dawson— William Faulkner, Mosquitoes

Dolphus—Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Emmett—Bobbie Ann Mason, In Country

Harley—Shelby Foote, Love in a Dry Season

Hazel (!)—Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood

Holt—Reynolds Price, Kate Vaiden

Hoover—Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood

Ignatius—John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces

Josiah (middle name Devotion)—Mary Lee Settle, O Beaulah Land

Junius— Truman Capote, The Grass Harp

Léonce—Kate Chopin, The Awakening

Link—Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Loch, Eudora Welty, The Golden Apples

Mathu—Ernest Gaines, A Gathering of Old Men

Pluto—Erskine Caldwell, God’s Little Acre

Rafe—Gail Godwin, A Southern Family

Ringo— William Faulkner, The Unvanquished

Rufus—James Agee, A Death in the Family

Simons—Padgett Powell, Edisto

Sully—Ernest Gaines, A Gathering of Old Men

Taurus—Padgett Powell, Edisto

Theophilus—William Faulkner, Go Down, Moses

Weldon—Carson McCullers, Reflections in a Golden Eye

Williston—Walker Percy, The Last Gentleman

About the Author

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz is the co-founder of Nameberry, and co-author with Pamela Redmond of the ten baby naming books acknowledged to have revolutionized American baby naming. You can follow her personally at InstagramTwitter and Facebook. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed New York Review Books Classics novel Talk and a number of other books.