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.
Babs—is the Head of Heimilich Hospital’s Human Resources Department. Her old-fangled nickname for Barbara is suddenly sounding sort of cute again.
Beatrice Baudelaire, whose death, along with husband Bertrand, in a fire leaves her children orphans. Beatrice is back in full revival mode, now at Number 565, in the Top 100 in the UK.
Carmelita Spats is a pupil at Profrock Preparatory School who appears in The Austere Academy, The Slippery Slope, The Grim Grotto and The Penultimate Peril. Carmelitais a peppy Latinate spin on Carmel, associated with Olympic champ runner Carmelita Jeter.
Eleanora Poe is the editor-in-chief of The Daily Punctillo. Eleanora, an elaboration of classic Eleanor, is attracting some new attention.
Esmé Squalor is the wife of Jerome, who leaves him to run off with Count Olaf. Esmé is a Salinger name, also featured in the Twilight saga, Number 35 on Nameberry.
Fiona Widdershins is a mycologist—otherwise known as a studier of fungi— first seen in The Grim Grotto. Scottish Fiona is rising rapidly, 219 in the US, 108 on Nameberry.
Friday is a young island girl, quite appropriately the daughter of Thursday. Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday are occasionally used—not many girl Fridays.
Georgina—Dr. Georgina Orwell’s name is an allusion to writer George Orwell. Georgia, Georgina and Georgiana are all appealing choices.
Geraldine Julienne is the star reporter on The Daily Punctillo. Once a Top 40 name, Geraldine could return, a la Josephine.
Isadora is one of the orphaned Quagmire triplets who are kidnapped by Count Olaf in The Austere Academy. Some are seeing Isadora as a possible follow-up to Isabella—it’s 183 on Nameberry.
Josephine Anwhistle is a victim of Count Olaf. Josephine is a vintage darling, with sweet nn Josie.
Justice Strauss is, quite fittingly, a judge, the next-door neighbor of Count Olaf. Justice has surfaced as a boy virtue name, but why not for a girl?
Kit Snicket, a sister of Jacques and Lemony Snicket. Kit is a cute shortening of Katherine nn Kitty.
Miranda Calaban–the wife of Thursday and mother of Friday. Miranda is a lovely, poetic successor to Amanda.
Olivia Caliban runs Caligari Carnival in The Carnivorous Carnival. Olivia is the #2 name in the US.
Polly Poe, the wife of Arthur, is a minor character in The Bad Beginning. Old nn Polly sounds fresher than Molly.
Sunny Baudelaire is the baby sister of Violet and Klaus. Adam Sandler and ‘Flea’ both have daughters named Sunny.
Violet Baudelaire is one of the three protagonists of the series, appearing in all 13 novels. Violet has been a vintage hit since it was chosen by the Ben Afflecks in 2005.
Albert Poe appears in The Bad Beginning, son of Arthur and Polly Poe. Could come back via cute nn Bertie.
Arthur Poe— a banker who became Vice President in Charge of Orphan Affairs at Mulctuary Money Management. His name has come out of retirement, now at #292.
Charles works at the Lucky Smells Lumber Mill. Charles is, of course, a royal classic, now back up at Number 50, higher here than in England.
Dewey—the name of one of the managers of Hotel Denoument in The Penultimate Peril. A Top 20 name at the end of the 19th century, Dewey hasn’t been heard much since the days of Donald Duck’s nephews, despite some distinguished surname heroes.
Duncan—Duncan Quagmire is the triplet brother of Isadora and Quigley. Isadora and Duncan’s names were inspired by notorious modern dancer Isadora Duncan, who famously was strangled when her long scarf was caught in the wheel of her car.
Edgar Poe is an incidental character in The Bad Beginning, an obvious allusion to Edgar Allan Poe. Edgar has made a return, along with other Ed names.
Ernest is, with identical brother Frank, manager of the Hotel Denouement. Babynamers have not recognized the importance of being Ernest for quite a while.
Frank –see above
Gustav Sebald is another victim of Count Olaf. Americans prefer to go straight to the nickname Gus.
Hal is an old man working at the Heimlich Hospital in The Hostile Hospital, reappearing in The Reptile Room. Hank Azaria gave his son this venerable nickname.
Ishmael—a leader of a small colony of island inhabitants in The End. Not many parents have heeded the call to ‘Call me Ishmael’.
Jerome—Jerome Squalor, submissive husband of Esmé, first appears in The Ersatz Elevator. A saintly name that peaked in the 1930-40s.
Klaus—Klaus Baudelaire is the 12-year-old bookworm brother of Violet and Sunny. German spelling of Santa surname.
Lemony Snicket—an etymological cousin of Jiminy Cricket
Montgomery –Montgomery Montgomery is yet another victim of Count Olaf. Montgomery is a surprising new addition to the list of distinguished long surnames coming into style. Now #381 on NB, popular in England.
Olaf –Count Olaf is the principal villain of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Olaf has yet to join other popular O names Oliver and Owen.
Quigley is the third member of the Quagmire triplets in A Series of Unfortunate Events. Quaint Q appellation forming alliterative QQ initials.