May 24, 2015 § 5 Comments

From the Hebrew name “Binyamin”, meaning “son of the south” or “son of the right hand”.

Ben, Beniamin, Beniamino, Benj, Benja, Benji, Benjie, Benjy, Bennie, Benny, Benyamen, Beryamen, Binyamin, etc.

Benjamin Hardin Creighton (b. 1832), oldest of the Creighton children, “left for Californy 1849”), in Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt (1964; set during the American Civil War, 1861-1865).
– Middle name of Matthew Benjamin Creighton, Ellen’s husband and Jethro’s father, a well-respected farmer of integrity and compassion, in Across Five Aprils.
Benjamin Norton, the president of the trolley company Hurstwood attempts to work for, in Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie (published in 1900; set 1889-1890s).

Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), English novelist and politician.
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), American activist, author, diplomat, inventor, politician, publisher, scientist, and statesman.


May 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

From the Old Norse “Sveinn”, meaning “boy”.

Soini, Svein, Sveinn, Svend, Svens

Sven Hanson, Carrie’s solemn and austere brother-in-law in Chicago, in Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie (published in 1900; set 1889-1890s).

Sven Agessen (b. 1140-50-death unknown), Danish historian and writer.
Sven Delblanc (1931-1992), Swedish academic, author, professor, and translator.
Sven G. Eliassen (b. 1944), Norwegian historian.
Sven Elvestad (1884-1934), Norwegian author and journalist, who published mystery stories under the pen name “Stein Riverton”.
Sven Hassel (or Hazel; 1917-2012), pen name of Danish novelist Børge Willy Redsted Pedersen.
Sven Hedin (1865-1962), Swedish explorer, geographer, illustrator, photographer, topographer, and travel writer.
Sven Lidman (1882-1960), Swedish dramatist, novelist, poet, and preacher.
Sven Lidman (1921-2011), Swedish lexicographer and writer.
Sven Lindqvist (b. 1932), Swedish author and historian.
Sven Methling, Jr. (1918-2005), Danish director and screenwriter.
Sven Moren (1871-1938), Norwegian activist, author, children’s book writer, farmer, playwright, poet, and politician.
Sven Rosén (1708-1750), Swedish theologian and writer.
Sven Stolpe (1905-1996), Swedish critic, journalist, scholar, translator, and writer.


October 4, 2014 § 2 Comments

Medieval French diminutive of “Aalis” (“Alice“).

Ali, Alli, Allie, Allison, Alyson, Ally, Allyson, etc.

– Alison de Lindsay, Sir Peter and Lady Constance’s daughter, in The Door in the Wall (written in 1949 and set sometime between 1327-1377), by Marguerite de Angeli.
– Princess Alison Jocelyn, the damsel in distress who needs a hero, in the fantasy novel The Last Unicorn (1968) by Peter S. Beagle.

– Alison Baker (b. 1953), American short story writer.
– Alison Cockburn (1712-1794), Scottish poet, socialite, and wit (also known as Alison Rutherford or Alicia Cockburn).
– Alison Brackenbury (b. 1953), English poet.
– Alison Des Forges (1942-2009), American activist and historian.
– Alison Fell (b. 1944), Scottish novelist and poet.
– Alison Lester (b. 1952), Australian author and illustrator.
– Alison Lurie (b. 1926), American academic and novelist.
– Alison Plowden (1931-2007), English biographer and historian.
– Alison Uttley (1884-1976), English author.
– Alison Weir (b. 1951), English author, biographer, and historian.


August 17, 2014 § 10 Comments

From the Hebrew name “Channah”, meaning “favor” or “grace”.

Aina, Ana, Anabel, Anabela, Anabell, Anabella, Anabelle, Anais, Anca, Ane, Aneta, Ania, Anica, Anika, Aniko, Anita, Anja, Anka, Anna, Annabel, Annabela, Annabell, Annabella, Annabelle, Annabel, Anne, Annetta, Annette, Anneli, Anni, Annica, Annick, Annie, Annika, Anniken, Annikki, Annukka, Annushka, Annuska, Anny, Anushka, Anya, Chanah, Channah, Hana, Hanna, Hanne, Hannele, Hania, Hena, Henda, Hendel, Hene, Henye, Jana, Janna, Joanna, Joanne, Johanna, Johannah, Nainsi, Nan, Nancie, Nancy, Nanette, Nannie, Nanny, Nina, Ninon, Ona, Onna, etc.

– Hannah, a houseservant at the Elliston’s, in “Major Molly’s Christmas Promise” from Nora Perry’s A Flock of Girls and Boys (1895).
– Hannah, the servant in the Rivers household, in Jane Eyre, 1847, by Charlotte Bronte.
– Hannah, “a civil, pretty-spoken girl”, housemaid at Randalls and daughter of Mr. Woodhouse’s coachman, James, in Jane Austen’s Emma (1815).
– Aunt Hannah, who might be a fallback matron for Hope should something happen to Mrs. Bell, in “What Hope Bell Found in Her Stocking”, from The Youngest Miss Lorton, and Other Stories by Nora Perry (1889).

– Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), German-American political theorist and writer.

– 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 Hannah described thusly: ” . . . Hannah the housemaid / Laughed with her eyes, as she listened, but governed her tongue, and was silent, / . . . Hannah the housemaid, the thrifty, the frugal . . . / . . . for a season was silent the penitent housemaid; / . . . Nothing was heard for a while but the step of Hannah the housemaid / Walking the floor overhead, and setting the chambers in order. / And Elizabeth said, with a smile of compassion, ‘The maiden / Hath a light heart in her breast, but her feet are heavy and awkward.’ / . . . Hannah the housemaid, the homely, was looking out of the attic, / Laughing aloud at Joseph, . . . / . . . Hannah the housemaid / Diligent early and late, and rosy with washing and scouring, / Still as of old disparaged the eminent merits of Joseph, / And was at times reproved for her light and frothy behavior, / For her shy looks, and her careless words, and her evil surmisings, / . . . And not otherwise Joseph, the honest, the diligent servant, / Sped in his bashful wooing with homely Hannah the housemaid; / For when he asked her the question, she answered, ‘Nay;’ and then added: / ‘But thee may make believe, and see what will come of it, Joseph.'”


August 11, 2014 § 11 Comments

From German, meaning “home-ruler” or “leader of the army”.

Amerigo, Amery, Anri, Arrigo, Emmerich, Emery, Emory, Enrico, Enrique, Enzo, Hal, Hank, Harald, Harold, Harri, Harry, Heimrich, Heinrich, Heinz, Hennie, Henny, Henri, Hendrik, Hendry, Henning, Henrik, Henryk, Herrold, Herry, Imre, Imrich, Imrus, Ric, Rico, Rik, Rikki, etc.

Uncle Henry, one of the several relatives who always give in to Dolly’s pleading, in “The Youngest Miss Lorton”, from The Youngest Miss Lorton, and Other Stories by Nora Perry (1889).
Henry Arden, Cannie’s minister father, who lacks the strength for life on a New England farm, in A Little Country Girl (1885), by Susan Coolidge.
Henry Biltmer, owner of the small ranch Thea visits in Arizona, in The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather (written in 1915 and set in the 1890s).
Henry Pierre Bowdoin, Esther’s artist father, in “Esther Bodn”, from Nora Perry’s A Flock of Girls and Boys (1895).
Henry Dashwood, father to our heroines Elinor and Marianne, their younger sister Margaret, and their selfish and greedy half-brother John, in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (set between 1792-1797, published in 1811).
Henry de Lindsay, one of Sir Peter and Lady Constance’s two sons, in The Door in the Wall (written in 1949 and set sometime between 1327-1377), by Marguerite de Angeli.
Henry Giles, Israel Thomas’ son-in-law, who joins in the watch over the Creighton farm when it’s threatened by Guy Wortman and his gang, in Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt (1964; set during the American Civil War, 1861-1865).
Henry Jameson, “a trader without a heart”, in The Harvester (1911) by Gene Stratton Porter.
Henry Knightley, the oldest of John and Isabella’s children, the heir of Donwell Abbey should Mr. Knightley never wed and have children of his own, in Jane Austen’s Emma (1815).
Henry Lynn, one of the Lynn brothers who are members of Mr. Rochester’s social set, in Jane Eyre, 1847, by Charlotte Bronte.
Col. Henry Mortimer, who must solve a ghostly mystery to save his son’s life, in “The Open Door” (1881), from Stories of the Seen and Unseen by Mrs. (Margaret) Oliphant.
Henry Nathanmeyer, the kindly Jewish businessman whose wife serves as Thea’s patroness in Chicago, in The Song of the Lark.
Mr. Henry Woodhouse, Isabella and Emma’s father, a “much older man in ways than in years”, in Emma.

– Henry Brooks Adams (1838-1918), American historian and writer.
– Henry Beston (1888-1968), American writer and naturalist.
– Henry Cole (b. 1955), American children’s book writer and illustrator.
– Henry Fielding (1707-1754), English novelist and dramatist.
– Henry Green (1905-1972), pen name of English novelist Henry Vincent Yorke.
– Henry James (1843-1916), Anglo-American novelist.
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), American poet and educator.
– Henry Lucy (1842-1924), English journalist and humorist.
– Henry Louis (H.L.) Mencken (1880-1956), American editor, critic, satirist, and writer.
– Henry Miller (1891-1980), American writer.
– Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), American activist, author, poet, and philosopher.


August 7, 2014 § 7 Comments

From Hebrew, meaning “God has heard” or “name of God”.

Sam, Sami, Sammie, Sammy, Semuel, Shem, Shemuel, Shmuel, etc.

Samuel Warburton, Mrs. Warburton’s husband, a scientist and scholar, in “Pansies” from A Garland for Girls, by Louisa May Alcott, 1887.

– Samuel Beckett (1906-1989), Irish novelist, playwright, and poet.
– Samuel Butler (1613-1680), English poet and satirist.
– Samuel Butler (1835-1902), English writer and iconoclast.
– Samuel Clemens (1835-1910), American author and humorist who wrote under the pen name “Mark Twain”.
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), English critic, poet, and philosopher.
– Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), English moralist, writer, and lexicographer.
– Samuel Pepys (1633-1703), English diarist.


August 2, 2014 § 14 Comments

From the same source as “Jacob”, from Hebrew, meaning “supplanter”, or possibly, “may God protect”.

Giacomo, Hamish, Iago, Jae, Jacques, Jago, Jai, Jaime, Jaimie, Jamie, Jameson, Jamieson, Jamey, Jay, Jaymes, Jeames, Jem, Jemmy, Jim, Jimbo, Jimi, Jimmie, Jimmy, Jimsy, Seamus, Shamus, Sheamus, etc.

James, the manservant at 999 Marlborough Street, in “Ally”, from Nora Perry’s A Flock of Girls and Boys (1895).
James, butler for the Joy family while in Newport, in A Little Country Girl (1885), by Susan Coolidge.
James, Mr. Woodhouse’s coachman in Jane Austen’s Emma (1815).
James, 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).
James Cooper, whose wife is one of those married friends from Bath that Augusta Elton cites as an example of how married women always give up their pursuit of music, in Emma.
James Alexander, the alias chosen by the con man who persecutes Georgie Gray and Berry Joy in A Little Country Girl.
– James Crawley (sometimes called “Jim“), one of the Rev. Bute Crawley’s sons in Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray (published in 1847-48, but set in the 1810s-20s).
James Alexander Creighton (1849-1852), one of the three young Creighton boys who died of “paralysis” the year Jethro was born, in Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt (1964; set during the American Civil War, 1861-1865).
James Marlowe (called “Jim“), the impetuous young man whose impulsive nature leads to a sorrowful mix-up, 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)
James McMull, the “young sprig of Scotch nobility” Miss Rhoda Swartz ends up marrying after Mr. Osborne fails to add her to his family, in Vanity Fair.

– See this post for a long list of writers named James dating all the way back to the thirteenth century.

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