July 31, 2014 § 4 Comments

From Greek, meaning “strange” or “foreign”.

Babs, Barb, Barbary, Barbera, Barbie, Barbra, Barby, Bobbie, Bobby, Varvara, Varvora, etc.

Barbara, a servant at Lowood Academy, in Jane Eyre, 1847, by Charlotte Bronte.
Barbara, a “severe and devout Princess of the House of Bolkum, widow of the monarch of Pumpernickel, where Dobbin, Amelia, Jos, and Georgy stop for a while on their Grand Tour, in Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray (published in 1847-48, but set in the 1810s-20s).
Lady Barbara Fitzurse is an heiress who serves as a topic for gossip between Miss Crawley, Rawdon Crawley, and Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair.
Barbara Pinkerton, the formidable sister in charge of Miss Pinkerton’s Academy for young ladies in Vanity Fair.

Want to learn more about writers named “Barbara”? Check out this post for starters.

– “Barbara Allen” is a traditional folk song with origins in England and Scotland in the 17th century, though it has undergone hundreds of variations since it was first recorded by Samuel Pepys in 1666: “In Scarlet town where I was born / there was a fair maid dwellin’ / and every youth cried Well-a-day / For her name was Barb’ra Allen”.


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