Category: baby names from books

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Who Knew Victor Hugo was a Name Nerd?

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By Clare Bristow

Victor Hugo, the nineteenth-century French writer best known for Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, was a keen observer of people and society. I’d wager he was something of a name enthusiast, too.

His books contain not just memorably-named characters, but also a lot of comments on names.

If someone has an unusual name, it usually has a back story. For example, Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre-Dame, was named after the first word in the liturgy on the day he was found as an infant.

Hugo’s characters talk about names, their own and others, just like we do in real life. In Notre-Dame, a group of women laugh at Esmeralda’s outlandish name (although they can hardly talk, with names like Amelotte, Colombe, Mahiette and Oudarde). Elsewhere, a man called Félix complains that his name is a lie because he is not happy.

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How J.K. Rowling Names Her Characters

By Meredith Testa, Namenculture

J.K. Rowling has been profiled on Nameberry several times, and with good reason- she’s as creative a namer as she is a writer. She draws character names from literature, mythology, history, astronomy, and countless international languages. No character is named haphazardly; families have consistent naming patterns (like the celestial Blacks and the floral Evanses) and individual characters’ names match their personas. Below are some of the best-named characters in the series.

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The Return of Lemony Snicket

By Linda Rosenkrantz

Lemony Snicket has just made a welcome return appearance, via Netflix, reminding us of what an inventive namer his creator (nee Daniel Handler) is—kind of a cross between C. Dickens and JK Rowling. Personally, I’m crazy about some of the incredible surnames in the series—Baudelaire, Caliban, Poe, Quagmire, and especially the use of the word Denouement as a name.

As for the first names, there are lots of classics, especially for the boys—Albert, Arthur, Charles, Frank and Phil—and some trendy girls’ names as well, such as Olivia and Violet, but there are some more uncommon examples as well. Let’s have a look at names from the whole series.

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Names from Books: The Golden Compass

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By Clare Bristow

Now that winter is here, it’s a good time to look at names from the frozen north and beyond in the worlds created by Philip Pullman in his young-adult trilogy His Dark Materials.

If you’ve read or watched the first part, The Golden Compass (called Northern Lights in some countries), it’s hard to forget the heroine, a girl called Lyra, or the friends and foes she meets on her journey to the Arctic. She comes from a universe similar but different to ours: it’s a bit steampunk and contains colourful characters like witches and armoured polar bears.

In the following books, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass, we follow Lyra beyond the north into other worlds, including our own, inhabited by all manner of people: humans, angels, harpies, and even stranger creatures. With this eclectic mix of characters and Pullman’s love of symbols and hidden meanings, you can bet they have some good names.

Here’s a look at some of the most interesting names from The Golden Compass and its sequels, from wintry northern names to modern-sounding surnames. Warning: if you haven’t read any of the books or seen the film, there may be a few giveaway details here.

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Literary Baby Names: YA book characters

By Abby Sandel

Literary baby names are big – just look at Emma and Harper. Some of the most interesting influences come from novels aimed at younger readers. YA – young adult – literature has given us Luna (from Harry Potter), boosted Hazel (from The Fault in Our Stars), and exposed a generation of future namers to some dazzling possibilities.

There’s no shortage of series with fascinating characters and the names to match. Several of them – like the remade fairytale adventures of Cinder – could turn into movies, too. When that happens, it’s even more likely that an unusual name might catch on. Hunger Games-inspired names like Finnick and Primrose are already making more parents’ shortlists.

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