30 April, 2015

What's in a (Narnian) Name?

Would you name your child after a literary character?

When writing fiction, naming the main characters is an important part of the job. A name can tell you a lot about the background of a character - age, class, ethnicity, maybe even the temperament of their parents - but for the writer, it's also an important way to bond with a character. Although I don't tend to sweat long and hard over the names of my characters, I have found, on several occasions, that I've had to change a name because the one I've chosen hasn't clicked with me, or another name keeps insinuating itself into my thoughts. How much more terrifying then, to have choose the name of a real life character - to pick a name for your child!

Our first child is called Digory. As it happened, we just really liked the name. We had a shortlist of three or four and when we first popped out we picked the one we thought he suited. It does however, have a literary connection which several people have commented on. Digory Kirke is a character from The Chronicles of Narnia. He is the Magician's Nephew and goes on to become the professor who owns the wardrobe in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. We didn't name Digory for this reason, but it's pleasing to have an accidental literary connection that I love!

It's got me wondering whether Paul and I should be more intentionally literary next time. But it's tricky. For example, we both love A Tale of Two Cities and the characterisation of Sydney Carton in it. However, neither of us like the names Sydney or Carton! With a pet, it might be easier - I can think of loads of literary names I like enough to lumber a pet with, but a person who has to go to school, get a job and impress the ladies (or gentlemen) is a bit different. What do you think? Would you choose a literary name?

One name I have liked for ages is Atticus. Unfortunately it has become something of a hipster name in the last year or so with the resurgence of interest in To Kill a Mockingbird. We could go for something romantic instead, such as Heathcliffe, or fantastical - Bilbo, anyone? Gandalf? Something that has been suggested on Twitter is that we go for another Narnian name to match Digory. When I asked for suggestions they were certainly interesting! With that in mind, we thought we'd get Diggy to help us pick one out.

The face of a one year-old who's been let loose with a permanent marker...


He definitely seemed to favour Hogglestock. Hogglestock Banks? I think that could work, right? I favour Rumblebuffin and actually genuinely like Caspian, but as my husband had already vetoed Caspar ("everyone will think he's a friendly ghost") and I've therefore used Caspar as a main character in my current novel, I suppose it's out.

In the end, I doubt we'll choose a literary name. All the best ones - Wackford Squeers, Uriah Heep, Lemony Snicket - are a little too much to lumber a child with. But perhaps we'll be inspired. Inspire us! What are your favourite names in literature?

6 comments:

  1. Oh, well, I think it's time for a Sherlock to appear on the scene. Or maybe Mycroft. :-)

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    1. Mycroft is an excellent suggestion!

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  2. I never even considered a literary name for our kids and wouldn't do it unless I just happened to love that name.

    Our son has a former president's name--although it was his last name, but we chose that cause we liked the name, not because of the president. But luckily that president, Lincoln, has pretty good history behind him. :)

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    1. I was just thinking the other day how Lincoln would be a good person to name a kid after! Nice name :)

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  3. Awesome - love the name Caspian. We've considered names for a while now, because it's hard to have something that goes well with 'Sterling' - Arthur (and yes because of THE Arthur and my Nan assures me that the Arthur in our family was lovely). Plus we can shorten to Art. The girls name - Ayra/Aria partly is inspired by GoT but mostly a name we've heard that we like a lot and is short enough to go with Sterling (married name). Has a good ring to it!

    Ultimately - names are hard. Finding one you both like is miracle enough!

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    1. Arthur/Art is very popular at the moment! I think it's a lovely name too. I'm lucky that most things go with Banks. Although, there's only one boys name that my husband has said he likes so far this time round, so it could be a decision that doesn't even need to be made!

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