Unique Southern Names

September 9, 2011 Linda Rosenkrantz

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.


AdaCharles Frazier, Cold Mountain

Alma—Tennessee Williams, Summer and Smoke 

AmandaTennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie

BlancheTennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire

Calpurnia—Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Castalia—Allan Gurganus, Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All

CelieAlice Walker, The Color Purple

ChablisJohn Berendt, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Clytie (Clytemnesta)– William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom

DabneyEudora Welty, Delta Wedding

Dilsey– William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

DorindaEllen Glasgow, Barren Ground

ElizaThomas Wolfe, Look Homeward Angel

FrankieCarson McCullers, The Member of the Wedding

HeavenlyTennessee Williams, Sweet Bird of Youth

Idabel—Truman Capote, Other Voices, Other Rooms

LeafyZora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

LeoraFlannery O’Connor, Wise Blood

LouviniaWilliam Faulkner, The Unvanquished

MaribelleTennessee Williams, Sweet Bird of Youth

MayellaHarper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Meridian—Alice Walker, Meridian

Narcissa, William Faulkner, Sartoris

NonnieLillian Smith, Strange Fruit

PeytonWilliam Styron, Lie Down in Darkness

PortiaCarson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Rosacoke—Reynolds Price, A Long and Happy Life

Sabbath—Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood

SalomeEudora Welty, The Robber Bridegroom

Sapphia—Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

TempleWilliam Faulkner, Sanctuary

Tolitha—Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides

VerenaTruman Capote, The Grass Harp


Alcée—Kate Chopin, The Awakening

Battle—Eudora Welty, Delta Wedding

Bayard, William Faulkner, The Unvanquished

BeauErnest Gaines, A Gathering of Old Men

Binx–Walker Percy, The Moviegoer

Bogan—Robert Penn Warren, At Heaven’s Gate

BrickTennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

CashWilliam Faulkner, As I Lay Dying

ChanceTennessee Williams, Sweet Bird of Youth

DabneyEudora Welty, Delta Wedding

DarlWilliam Faulkner, As I Lay Dying

DawsonWilliam Faulkner, Mosquitoes

DolphusHarper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

EmmettBobbie Ann Mason, In Country

HarleyShelby Foote, Love in a Dry Season

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

HoltReynolds Price, Kate Vaiden

HooverFlannery O’Connor, Wise Blood

IgnatiusJohn Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces

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

JuniusTruman Capote, The Grass Harp

Léonce—Kate Chopin, The Awakening

LinkHarper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Loch, Eudora Welty, The Golden Apples

Mathu—Ernest Gaines, A Gathering of Old Men

PlutoErskine Caldwell, God’s Little Acre

RafeGail Godwin, A Southern Family

RingoWilliam Faulkner, The Unvanquished

RufusJames Agee, A Death in the Family

Simons—Padgett Powell, Edisto

SullyErnest Gaines, A Gathering of Old Men

TaurusPadgett Powell, Edisto

TheophilusWilliam Faulkner, Go Down, Moses

WeldonCarson McCullers, Reflections in a Golden Eye

WillistonWalker Percy, The Last Gentleman


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