Matthew

October 4, 2014 § 6 Comments

ORIGIN:
English form of the Greek “Matthaios”, from the Hebrew “Mattityahu”, meaning “gift of the Lord”.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Mads, Maitiu, Makaio, Mat, Mateo, Mateu, Matfey, Mathew, Mathias, Mathieu, Mathis, Matias, Matko, Mats, Matt, Matteo, Matteus, Mattheus, Matthias, Matthieu, Matthijs, Matti, Mattie, Matty, Matvei, Motya, Thijs, Tias, etc.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
Brother Matthew, one of the monks at St. Mark’s, in The Door in the Wall (written in 1949 and set sometime between 1327-1377), by Marguerite de Angeli.
Matthew Benjamin Creighton (called “Matt“), Ellen’s husband and Jethro’s father, a well-respected farmer of integrity and compassion, in Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt (1964; set during the American Civil War, 1861-1865).
Matthew Colvin Creighton (1850-1852), one of the three young Creighton boys who died of “paralysis” the year Jethro was born, in Across Five Aprils.

WRITERS:
– Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), English poet and critic.
– Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Welsh minister and religious writer.
– Matthew Josephson (1899-1978), American author and journalist.
– Matthew Lewis (1775-1818), English dramatist and novelist.
– Matthew Wren (1629-1672), English politician and writer.

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Esther

August 29, 2014 § 3 Comments

ORIGIN:
Possibly Persian, meaning “star”, or derived from “Ishtar”, the name of the Babylonian and Assyrian mother goddess of love, fertility, and war.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Aster, Eistir, Esfir, Essi, Essie, Esta, Estee, Ester, Estera, Esteri, Eszter, Eszti, Hester, Ishtar, Istar, Yesfir, etc.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
Esther Bowdoin, whose shabby home life belies her blue-blooded ancestry and artistic heritage, in “Esther Bodn”, from Nora Perry’s A Flock of Girls and Boys (1895).
Esther (or Edna or Etka) Kroll Shaine — “Esther in Hebrew, Edna in English, and Etka in Russian” — Lily’s increasingly-senile grandmother in Sleeping Arrangements, by Laura Cunningham (published 1989, set in the 1950s).

WRITERS:
You can find a good, solid starter list of writers named “Esther” in this post.

Ann

August 2, 2014 § 14 Comments

ORIGIN:
Alternately spelled “Anne”, this is an English variant of “Anna”, from “Hannah” (as used in the Greek and Latin Old Testament), a version of the Hebrew name “Channah”, meaning “favor” or “grace”.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Ana, Anabel, Anabelle, Anabella, Anais, Andie, Andy, Aneta, Ani, Anica, Anika, Anita, Anitra, Anka, Anke, Anna, Annabel, Annabella, Annabelle, Annag, Anne, Anneke, Annella, Annetta, Annette, Annick, Annicka, Annie, Annika, Anniken, Annis, Anouk, Antje, Anya, Chana, Channah, Hanna, Hannah, Hanne, Nan, Nancy, Nanette, Nannie, Nina, Ninon, Ona, Onna, etc.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
Ann, a maidservant in the Lloyd household, in “The Egg-Boy” from Nora Perry’s A Flock of Girls and Boys (1895).
Ann, a maidservant in the Lambert household, in “The Thanksgiving Guest”, from A Flock of Girls and Boys.
Ann, one of the Boston children roused to their chores at the start of Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes (written in 1943; set during the years leading up to the American Revolutionary War, 1773-1775).
Ann, the little Dunbars’ aunt, married to the wealthy, somewhat cantankerous Uncle Timothy, in “The Little Dunbars, and Their Charming Christmas Plans”, from The Youngest Miss Lorton, and Other Stories by Nora Perry (1889).
Aunt Ann, Agnes Brendon’s aunt, who she relies on to introduce her to the splendid Pelhams, in “That Little Smith Girl” from A Flock of Girls and Boys.
Aunt Ann, Jim Marlowe’s aunt, who hosts the get-together where all the trouble starts, in “The Tragedy of the Unexpected”, from Nora Perry’s The Tragedy of the Unexpected and Other Stories (published in 1880, but set in the 1870s)
Ann Dobbin, one of William Dobbin’s sisters in Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray (published in 1847-48, but set in the 1810s-20s).
Ann Fleming, Ally’s aunt, who is perhaps too quick to judge, in “Ally”, from A Flock of Girls and Boys.

WRITERS:
– See this post for a starting list of writers named Ann.

Robert

July 30, 2014 § 12 Comments

ORIGIN:
Anglo-Saxon, meaning “bright flame”.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Bob, Bobbie, Bobby, Rab, Raibeart, Rob, Robb, Robbie, Robby, Roberto, Robi, Robin, Rupert, Ruprecht, etc. I guess even Bobert, if you really wish it.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
Robert (called “Bob“, b. 1920), the eleventh 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.
Robert, the pageboy at Jim and Ned’s place, in “The Tragedy of the Unexpected”, from Nora Perry’s The Tragedy of the Unexpected and Other Stories (published in 1880, but set in the 1870s)
Sir Robert, an uncle to Edward, Fanny, and Robert Ferrars, who was responsible for Mrs. Ferrar’s decision to send Edward to Mr. Pratt’s for a private education, in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (set between 1792-1797, published in 1811).
Lord Robert of Amhurste (called “Robin” by his twin sister, Margaret), a brave and generous young man, in “A Brother to Dragons” (written in 1886, set in 1586), from A Brother to Dragons, and Other Old Time Tales (1888), by Amélie Rives.
Sir Robert Bampfylde, the litigious gentleman whose lawsuits led to Tom Faggus’ ruin and subsequent adoption of the highwayman’s life, in Lorna Doone, by R.D. Blackmore (written in 1869, set in the 1670s-1680s).
Rev. Robert Brocklehurst, the formidable and hypocritical supervisor of Lowood Institute, in Jane Eyre, 1847, by Charlotte Bronte.
– Middle name of John Robert Creighton (b. 1837), Jethro’s oldest brother remaining at home, “more impatient, quicker to anger” than his beloved brother Bill, in Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt (1964; set during the American Civil War, 1861-1865).
Robert Ferrars, Edward’s favored younger brother, “silly and a great coxcomb”, in Sense and Sensibility.
Robert Furnival, old Lady Mary’s lawyer, who pesters her to write her will before it is too late, in “Old Lady Mary” (1884), from Stories of the Seen and Unseen by Mrs. (Margaret) Oliphant.
Robert Leaven, the man Bessie Lee marries, who works as porter at Gateshead and lives in the lodge, in Jane Eyre.
Robert Martin, a sensible, respectable, intelligent young gentleman-farmer, who hopes to marry Harriet Smith, in Jane Austen’s Emma (1815).
Robert Racket (called “Robin“), a handsome and charming lad who steals the hearts of cousins Keren Lemon and Ruth Visor, in “The Farrier Lass o’ Piping Pebworth” (written in 1887, set circa 1600), from A Brother to Dragons, and Other Old Time Tales.
Robert Siddell, one of Uncle Gabe’s two favorite students at his Jewish vocational school, chosen as a blind date for teenaged Lily, in Sleeping Arrangements, by Laura Cunningham (published 1989, set in the 1950s).

WRITERS:
Go here for a list of probably close to a thousand writers named “Robert”, if you’d like to know what sort of illustrious literary company this name keeps.

John

July 30, 2014 § 16 Comments

ORIGIN:
The Anglicization of “Johannes”, which is the Latin form of “Ioannes”, the Greek version of the Hebrew “Jochanan”, meaning “Jehovah has been gracious”.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Eoin, Evan, Ewan, Gianni, Giannino, Giovanni, Hankin, Hans, Ian, Iain, Ioannes, Ivan, Jack, Jackie, Jackin, Jacky, Jan, Janko, Jannick, Jean, Jeannot, Jenkin, Jens, Jo, Joan, Jock, Johan, Johannes, Johnnie, Johnny, Jon, Jonas, Jonel, Jonny, Joop, Jovan, Juan, Juanito, Nino, Sean, Shane, Shawn, Yan, Yannick, Yochanon, Yon, Yvan, Vanya, etc. So, so many variations.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
John, the Gray’s stableman while in Newport, in A Little Country Girl (1885), by Susan Coolidge.
John, a coachman who helps Captain Mirvan and Sir Clement pull their highwayman prank on Madame Duval, in Evelina, or, The History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World (1778), by Fanny Burney.
John, the manservant at Thornfield (and later, Ferndean), in Jane Eyre, 1847, by Charlotte Bronte.
John, a house-servant at the Elliston’s, in “Major Molly’s Christmas Promise” from Nora Perry’s A Flock of Girls and Boys (1895).
John, one of Sir John and Lady Middleton’s children, in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (set between 1792-1797, published in 1811).
John, a local boy Robin went to school with, in The Door in the Wall (written in 1949 and set sometime between 1327-1377), by Marguerite de Angeli.
John-go-in-the-Wynd, a minstrel who befriends Robin and escorts him to Sir Peter’s castle, in The Door in the Wall.
John-the-Fletcher, who was supposed to take Robin to Sir Peter’s for training, in The Door in the Wall.
Big John, the ambulance driver at the hospital, in K. by Mary Roberts Rinehart (1914).
Captain John, the honest and amiable hero of “Water Lilies” from A Garland for Girls, by Louisa May Alcott, 1887.
John (b. 1919), the tenth 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.
John Abdy, whose father was clerk to Mrs. Bates’ husband, and who goes to Mr. Elton to ask for relief from the parish in caring for the old man, in Jane Austen’s Emma (1815).
Sir John Belmont, who marries and afterwards rejects Caroline Duval, compelling her to leave their daughter, Evelina, in the care of the kind Rev. Mr. Villars, in Evelina, or, The History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World.
John Birch, the local farmer who is arrested for harboring the rebel, Major Wade, following the Monmouth Rebellion, in Lorna Doone, by R.D. Blackmore (written in 1869, set in the 1670s-1680s).
John Blackmore, a ne’er-do-well local to Queen’s Crawley in Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray (published in 1847-48, but set in the 1810s-20s).
Sir John Buckskin, who canes Becky’s traveling companion, Major Loder, for cheating at cards, in Vanity Fair.
John Coney, a real-life master silversmith mentioned in Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes (written in 1943; set during the years leading up to the American Revolutionary War, 1773-1775).
John Churchill Crawley was Sir Pitt’s grandfather in Vanity Fair.
John Robert Creighton (b. 1837), Jethro’s oldest brother remaining at home, “more impatient, quicker to anger” than his beloved brother Bill, in Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt (1964; set during the American Civil War, 1861-1865).
Sir John de Bureford, Robin’s father, who is away at war, fighting with King Edward III against the Scots, in The Door in the Wall.
John Dashwood, the greedy, selfish older half-brother of Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret, in Sense and Sensibility.
John Thomas Dawson was the father of Sir Pitt Crawley’s second wife, Rose, in Vanity Fair.
John Elliott (called “Jack“), Edith’s cousin, who Dolly embarrasses herself in front of, in “Dolly Varden”, from The Youngest Miss Lorton, and Other Stories by Nora Perry (1889).
John Eyre, Jane’s uncle, who spends years searching for her, in Jane Eyre.
John Faggus, Tom and Annie’s little boy, named for his uncle and godfather, the goodly John Ridd, in Lorna Doone.
John Fleming, Ally’s uncle, who realizes he hasn’t been understanding enough, in “Ally”, from A Flock of Girls and Boys.
John Fry, a longtime servant at the Ridd farm, known for being lazy and prone to dishonesty, in Lorna Doone.
John Fry, his son, whose warts compel his cowardly father to seek the help of the local witch, Mother Melldrum, in Lorna Doone.
John Green, parish clerk near Millcote and Thornfield, in Jane Eyre.
John Hancock, a real-life historical figure, the richest man in Boston, who figures into the story of Johnny Tremain.
John Horrocks, Sir Pitt Crawley’s butler and right-hand man in Vanity Fair.
John Johnes, First Baron Helvellyn, father of the Hon. Joan, who marries Lord Steyne’s son, George, in Vanity Fair.
John Jones, a rich gentleman from Llandaif who inherits Watchett Grange after the Countess of Dugal’s death at the hands of the Doones, in Lorna Doone.
John Paul Jefferson Jones, a guest of Lord Steyne’s who spreads Becky’s fame far and wide in an article he writes for his American newspaper, in Vanity Fair.
John Knightley, the second of John and Isabella Knightley’s three sons, who takes after his mother, in Emma.
John Krescott, who is, with his twin brother Alan, included in the “irregular” kids at Lily’s school, due to their having been born prematurely and continuing to be undersized, in Sleeping Arrangements, by Laura Cunningham (published 1989, set in the 1950s).
John Kriszinski, Sheila’s twin brother, in Sleeping Arrangements.
Mr. John Knightley, a rather anti-social young man; George Knightley’s younger brother, who lives in London with his wife Isabella, who is Emma Woodhouse’s older sister, in Emma.
John Lambert, whose unfortunate financial advice leads to a rift in the family, in “The Thanksgiving Guest”, from A Flock of Girls and Boys.
John Lovering, who holds the mortgage to much of the De Whichehalse property, in Lorna Doone.
Sir John Middleton, a relative of Mrs. Dashwood, a friendly, likeable sportsman who finds no greater pleasure in life than to play the host at Barton Park, in Sense and Sensibility.
John Moreland, one of Granny Moreland’s sons, in The Harvester (1911) by Gene Stratton Porter.
John Odam, the English pottery-maker who marries the Italian nursemaid Benita after she is stranded in Exmoor by the Doone’s attack on her employer’s coach, in Lorna Doone.
John Pimlico, a “friend” whose marriage draws comment on the tendency of old ladies to cry at weddings, in Vanity Fair.
– Sir John Redhand, a gentleman gossiped about in Vanity Fair.
John Reed (sometimes called “Jack“), one of Jane’s spoiled, mean-spirited cousins, in Jane Eyre.
John Ridd (sometimes called “Jack” or “Johnny“), the large and deliberate yeoman who is the narrator and hero of Lorna Doone.
John Ridd, young John’s father, who is murdered by the Doone’s, in Lorna Doone.
John Runninghorse, Lily’s first college boyfriend, in Sleeping Arrangements.
John Saunders, a local silversmith Miss Bates talks of taking her mother’s broken spectacles to, were it not for Mr. Frank Churchill’s kind attentions, in Emma.
John Sedley, Amelia’s father in Vanity Fair.
John Scroggins, Sir Pitt Crawley’s second keeper, in Vanity Fair.
Dr. John Simson, who does not believe in ghosts, but is shaken by a mysterious juniper bush, in “The Open Door” (1881), from Stories of the Seen and Unseen by Mrs. (Margaret) Oliphant.
Sir John Trenyan, Lord Robert and Lady Margaret’s uncle, in “A Brother to Dragons” (written in 1886, set in 1586), from A Brother to Dragons, and Other Old Time Tales (1888), by Amélie Rives.
Squire John Whichehalse, who helped capture the rebel Major Wade, an act the fair-dealing Exmoor locals can’t approve of, in Lorna Doone.
John Willoughby, the handsome and charming Casanova who courts Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility.
John Wybern, Esther’s artist uncle in “Esther Bodn”, from A Flock of Girls and Boys.

WRITERS:
John Bonett (1906-1989), pen name of English mystery author John Hubert Arthur Coulson, who often published jointly with his wife, Emery.
– John S. Browning (1907-1977), pen name of American science fiction author Robert Moore Williams, who also wrote under the pen names “E.K. Jarvis”, “H.H. Hermon”, “Robert Moore”, and “Russell Storm”.
– John Bunyan (1628-1688), English Christian writer and preacher.
– John Anthony Devon (1911-1983), pen name of Cornish biographer, historian, lecturer, novelist, poet, and professor Robert Payne, who also used the pen names “Howard Horn”, “Richard Cargoe”, “Robert Young”, and “Valentin Tikhonov”.
John L. Carter (1880-1959), English author and playwright who published under the pen names “Compton Irving”, “Compton Irving Carter”, and “J.L.J. Carter”.
– John Donne (1572-1631), English poet and cleric.
– John Keats (1795-1821), English Romantic poet.
– John Locke (1632-1704), English philosophical writer and “Father of Classical Liberalism”.
– John Masefield (1878-1967), English Poet Laureate and author.
– John Milton (1608-1674), English poet and polemicist.
John Neal (1793-1876), American author and critic who also published under the pen name “Jehu O’Cataract”.
– John Ruskin (1819-1900), English writer, critic, social thinker, and philanthropist.
– John Steinbeck (1902-1968) American author and Pulitzer Prize-winner.
– John Philip Thackray (1938-2002), English journalist, poet, singer, and songwriter who published under the pen name “Jake Thackray”.
– John van See (1916-2013), pen name of American author Jack Vance, who also published under the pen names “Alan Wade”, “Ellery Queen”, “Jay Kavanse”, and “Peter Held”.
– John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892), American Quaker poet and abolitionist.
– John Wyndham (1903-1969), English science fiction author.

QUOTATIONS:
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Elizabeth” (published in 1873, but set in 1701-02; from Tales of a Wayside Inn, Part the Third: The Theologian’s Tale) tells the love story of John Estaugh (1676-1742) and Elizabeth Haddon (1680-1762), with her servants Joseph and Hannah as supporting characters, and John himself described thusly: “. . . a young man, a stranger, John Estaugh, / Moved by the Spirit, rose, as if he were John the Apostle, / Speaking such words of power that they bowed our hearts, as a strong wind / Bends the grass of the fields, or grain that is ripe for the sickle. / . . . Youthful he was and tall, and his cheeks aglow with the night air; / . . . with staid and quiet behavior . . . / . . . ‘When the Lord’s work is done, and the toil and the labor completed / He hath appointed me, I will gather into the stillness / Of my own heart awhile, and listen and wait for his guidance.’ / . . . Meanwhile John Estaugh departed across the sea, and departing / Carried hid in his heart a secret sacred and precious . . . / And on the First-Day that followed, he rose in the Silent Assembly, / Holding in his strong hand a hand that trembled a little, / Promising to be kind and true and faithful in all things.”

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