July 28, 2014 § 18 Comments

The common Anglicized version of the Hebrew name “Miriam”, which may mean “rebellious” or “obstinate”. Or it may not. No one really knows. By now, “Mary” has more meaning due to connotation than to whatever the denotation may be.

Maaike, Maia, Mair, Mairenn, Mairi, Mairin, Mairwen, Maja, Malia, Maille, Mame, Mamie, Manon, Mara, Mari, Maria, Mariah, Mariamne, Marian, Marianne, Marie, Mariele, Mariella, Marielle, Marietta, Marika, Mariona, Marise, Mariska, Marissa, Marita, Maritza, Marjo, Marjut, Marya, Maryam, Marzena, Maura, Maureen, Masha, Mele, Mere, Meri, Mia, Mieke, Miep, Mies, Mimi, Mirele, Miriam, Mitzi, Moira, Moireen, Moll, Molle, Molly, Myriam, Ona, Poll, Pollie, Polly, Ria, etc. So many variations. So, so many.

Mary, Carrie’s older sister, expected to marry soon, in “Pansies” from A Garland for Girls, by Louisa May Alcott, 1887.
Mary (b. 1906), the second of the dozen Gilbreth children whose upbringing is related in Cheaper By the Dozen (1948) and Belles on Their Toes (1950), written by Frank Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey.
Mary, wife of John, the manservant at Thornfield (and later, Ferndean), in Jane Eyre, 1847, by Charlotte Bronte.
Mary, the name of a succession of inept maidservants employed by the Hurstwoods, in Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie (published in 1900; set 1889-1890s).
Lady Mary, the old woman whose laid-back approach to business nearly ruins her goddaughter, in “Old Lady Mary” (1884), from Stories of the Seen and Unseen by Mrs. (Margaret) Oliphant.
Mary, the Hungarian housemaid at Thea’s boarding house in Chicago, in The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather (written in 1915 and set in the 1890s).
Mary, the housemaid at Grandpa Bennet’s, in “That Ridiculous Child”, from The Youngest Miss Lorton, and Other Stories by Nora Perry (1889).
Mary Arkwright, the friend whose birthday party Dolly Lorton writes about in her diary, in “The Youngest Miss Lorton”, from The Youngest Miss Lorton, and Other Stories.
Aunt Mary Balcarres, whose house lies opposite the College Library, in “The Library Window” (1896), from Stories of the Seen and Unseen.
Mary Bennet, the serious and often-overlooked third Bennet daughter in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (written in 1797, published in 1813).
Mary Box, a girl local to Queen’s Crawley, with a reputation for fighting with her sister, in Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray (published in 1847-48, but set in the 1810s-20s).
Lady Mary Caerlyon, the unhappy wife of Lord Steyne in Vanity Fair.
Mary Clapp (nicknamed “Polly“), daughter of the Sedley’s landlord, who bestows on Dobbin the nickname “Major Sugarplums” owing to his habit of bringing gifts for all at every visit to the house,  in Vanity Fair.
Mary Ellen Creighton (b. 1844-46), Jethro’s older sister, “pretty as Jenny, only blond and more delicate”, who was killed in a carriage accident caused by a drunken Travis Burdow in 1859, in Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt (1964; set during the American Civil War, 1861-1865).
Mary Erroll, the beautiful and elegant neighbor who captures Jack Roden’s attention, and Virginia Herrick’s enmity, in Virginia of Virginia, written by Amélie Rives in 1888.
Mary Fleming, Ally’s cousin, whose actions don’t always reflect her intentions, in “Ally”, from Nora Perry’s A Flock of Girls and Boys (1895).
Mary Garrett, one of Jane’s students at the charity school in Morton, in Jane Eyre.
Mary Grant, Kitty’s sister in “Esther Bodn”, from A Flock of Girls and Boys.
Mary Ingram, Blanche’s younger sister, one of the elegant people who make up Mr. Rochester’s social set, in Jane Eyre.
Mary Jordan, an impoverished woman who turns to Philip Canning for aid, in “The Portrait” (1885), from Stories of the Seen and Unseen.
– Mary King, the young heiress who attracts Wickham’s attentions away from Elizabeth, in Pride and Prejudice.
Mary Leslie, a little girl who needs to have a better example set for her by the older girls, in “A Little Boarding-School Samaritan”, from A Flock of Girls and Boys.
Lady Mary Mango (daughter of the Earl of Castlemouldy), to whom Amelia is favorably compared in Vanity Fair.
Mary Marcy, a shrewd, spirited girl whose Quaker mother isn’t enough to keep her from wanting to fight back against injustice, in “An April Fool”, from A Flock of Girls and Boys.
Mary McGuire, one of Sidney’s patients at the hospital, in K. by Mary Roberts Rinehart (1914).
Mary, Lady Middleton, Mrs. Jennings’ daughter and Sir John’s wife, an elegant, though dull, woman who has little to offer besides devotion to her children and to the politesse of hostessing, in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (set between 1792-1797, published in 1811).
Mary Peters, wife of local farmer Amos Peters, in The Harvester (1911) by Gene Stratton Porter.
Mary Porter (called “Molly“), a shopgirl Anna Winslow helps in “May Flowers”, from A Garland for Girls.
Mary Rivers (later Wharton), one of St. John’s sisters, who befriend Jane after she leaves Thornfield, in Jane Eyre.
Miss Mary Scott, the pleasant old lady who hopes to see a rare flower bloom in “Water Lilies” from A Garland for Girls.
Mary Sedley is Amelia Sedley’s mother (although later her husband refers to her as “Bessy“) in Vanity Fair.
Mary Turner, Ed’s wife and Sam’s mother, in Across Five Aprils.
Mary Vivian, Lady Mary’s goddaughter, who is nearly left destitute through simple procrastination, in “Old Lady Mary” (1884), from Stories of the Seen and Unseen.

Mary Cowden Clark (1809-1898), English author and scholar.
– Mary Higgins Clark (b. 1927), American novelist.
Mary Boykin Chesnut (1823-1886), American diarist and socialite.
– Mary Stewart Doubleday Cutting (1851-1924), American activist and author.
– Mary McCarthy (1912-1989), American activist, author, and critic.
– Mary Roberts Rinehart (1876-1958), American mystery novelist.
– Mary Shelley (1797-1851), English writer.
– Mary Somerville (1780-1872), Scottish science writer and polymath.
– Mary Stewart (1916-2014), English author.
– Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), English activist, philosopher, and writer.

– Classic nursery rhymes such as “Mary, Mary, quite contrary” and “Mary had a little lamb“. Probably the most popular girl’s name for nursery rhymes, really. When it comes to rhyming, Mary is very ordinary.
– “Bring Flowers of the Rarest” is a hymn to the Virgin Mary, written by Mary E. Walsh in 1871: “Oh! Thus shall we prove thee / How truly we love thee, / How dark without Mary / Life’s journey would be. / O Mary! we crown thee with blossoms today, / Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May!”


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