Alban

December 19, 2014 § 1 Comment

ORIGIN:
From the Latin place name, meaning “from Alba”, derived from the Latin word “albus”, meaning “white”. Also the name of a prominent English saint.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Albano, Albanus, Albany, Alben, Albin, Albinus, Aubin, Aubyn, etc.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
– Duke Alban, whose land needs to be saved from a rampaging ogre, in the fantasy novel The Last Unicorn (1968) by Peter S. Beagle.

WRITERS:
– Alban Butler (1710-1773), English author and priest.
– Alban Stoltz (1808-1883), German author and theologian.
– Alban Thomas (c. 1660?-c.1740), Welsh cleric, poet, and translator.

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Josiah

September 15, 2014 § 1 Comment

ORIGIN:
From Hebrew, meaning “Jehovah supports”.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Iosias, Jos, Josias, etc.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
Josiah Bowden, the local parson in Lorna Doone, by R.D. Blackmore (written in 1869, set in the 1670s-1680s).
Josiah Quincy, the “best young lawyer in Boston”, who defends Johnny against charges of theft and fraud, in Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes (written in 1943; set during the years leading up to the American Revolutionary War, 1773-1775).

WRITERS:
– Josiah Conder (1789-1855), English author and editor.
– Josiah Gregg (1806-1850), American author, explorer, merchant, and naturalist.
– Josiah Henson (1789-1883), American-Canadian abolitionist, author, and minister.
– Josiah Gilbert Holland (1819-1881), American novelist and poet who sometimes used the pen name “Timothy Titcomb”.
– Josiah Quincy III (1772-1864), American historian and politician.
– Josiah Priest (1788-1851), American pseudohistorical and pseudoscientific writer.
– Josiah Strong (1847-1916), American author, clergyman, editor, and organizer.
– Josiah Tucker (1713-1799), Welsh churchman, economist, and political writer.

Frances

August 27, 2014 § 5 Comments

ORIGIN:
Feminine form of “Francis“, from the Germanic / Old French word for “free”.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Chica, Cissie, Cissy, Fan, Fannie, Fanny, Fran, Franca, Franci, Francie, Francka, Franka, Frankie, Franky, Frannie, Franny, Franzi, Paca, Paquita, Sissie, Sissy, etc.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
Frances Wentworth (called “Fan” or “Fanny“, Will’s conceited, snobbish cousin in “That Little Smith Girl” from Nora Perry’s A Flock of Girls and Boys (1895).

WRITERS:
Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924), English author and playwright.
Frances (Fanny) Burney (1752-1840), English diarist, novelist, and playwright.
Frances Cornford (1886-1960), English poet.
Frances FitzGerald (b. 1940), American historian and journalist.
Frances Scott (“Scottie”) Fitzgerald (1921-1986), American journalist and writer.
Frances Marion (1888-1973), American author, journalist, and screenwriter.
Frances Osborne (b. 1969), English biographer and novelist.
Frances Eleanor Trollope (1835-1913), English novelist.
Frances Milton Trollope (1779-1863), English novelist and writer.
Frances Vane, Viscountess Vane (c.1715-1788), English memoirist and socialite.

Denis

August 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

ORIGIN:
Alternate spelling of “Dennis“, from the medieval French version of “Dionysios”, derived from the name of the Greek god of wine, dance, revelry, and fertility.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Deion, Den, Denes, Denney, Dennis, Denny, Denys, Deon, Dion, Dionysios, Dionysius, Tenney, etc.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
– Denis, one of the other pageboys Robin befriends during his stay in Sir Peter’s castle, in The Door in the Wall (written in 1949 and set sometime between 1327-1377), by Marguerite de Angeli.
– Denis Eady, the “rich Irish grocer” and one-time suitor of Mattie Silver, in Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome (written in 1911, but set in the 1890s or first few years of the 1900s).

WRITERS:
– Denis Bond (b. 1946), English children’s book and television writer.
– Denis Diderot (1713-1784), French critic, philosopher, and writer.
– Denis Johnson (b. 1949), American writer.

Horace

August 5, 2014 § 1 Comment

ORIGIN:
English / French version of the Latin “Horatio” / “Horatius”, derived from the word for “hour”.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Horacio, Horatio, Horatius, Orazio, etc.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
– Sir Horace Fogey, one of Becky’s high society friends in Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray (published in 1847-48, but set in the 1810s-20s).
– Sir Horace Fogle, a former partner in Fogle, Fake, and Cracksman, who manages to escape his firm’s failure smelling like a rose, though it ruins Mr. Scape, in Vanity Fair.

WRITERS:
– Horace (65 BC-8 BC), English name for the Roman lyric poet, satirist, and critic.
– Horace Gregory (1898-1982), American poet and literary critic.
– Horace Smith (1779-1849), English poet and parodist.
– Horace Walpole (1717-1797), English writer and politician.

James

August 2, 2014 § 14 Comments

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

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
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.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
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.

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

Thomas

August 2, 2014 § 7 Comments

ORIGIN:
Greek form of the Aramaic for “twin”.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Maas, Tam, Tavish, Thom, Tom, Toma, Tomas, Tommaso, Tommie, Tommy, Twm, etc.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
Thomas, the Dashwood’s manservant at Barton Cottage, in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (set between 1792-1797, published in 1811).
Thomas, 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.
Brother Thomas, one of the monks at St. Mark’s, in The Door in the Wall.
Thomas Burk (called “T.B.”), Dr. Archie’s secretary in The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather (written in 1915 and set in the 1890s).
Thomas Cockram, the foreman of Reuben Huckabuck’s shop, who has designs on young Ruth, in Lorna Doone, by R.D. Blackmore (written in 1869, set in the 1670s-1680s).
Sir Thomas Coffin, “celebrated as a hanging judge”, in Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray (published in 1847-48, but set in the 1810s-20s).
Thomas Ward Creighton (called “Tom“; b. 1843), Jethro’s older brother, who, at just 18 years of age, runs off to join the Union Army, in Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt (1964; set during the American Civil War, 1861-1865).
Thomas Dover, missionary neighbor of the Misses Carey, in “Little Button-Rose”, from A Garland for Girls, by Louisa May Alcott, 1887.
Thomas Faggus (called “Tom“), the roguishly charming highwayman whose relation to the Ridd family gives them both prestige and trouble, in Lorna Doone.
Thomas Hancock, Mr. Hancock’s uncle, who originally ordered the silver set Mr. Hancock asks Mr. Lapham to make a replacement piece for, in Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes (written in 1943; set during the years leading up to the American Revolutionary War, 1773-1775).
Dr. Thomas Harrison (called “Doctor Tom“), who specializes in mending children’s hurt limbs, in “The Story of Little Syl”, from The Youngest Miss Lorton, and Other Stories.
Thomas Hooper, a schoolboy who is in John’s corner during his fight with Robin Snell, in Lorna Doone.
Sir Thomas Liverseege, Governor of Coventry Island before his death opens the position up for Rawdon Crawley to take advantage of, in Vanity Fair.
Thomas Palmer, husband of Mrs. Jennings’ daughter ebullient daughter Charlotte, in Sense and Sensibility.
Rev. Thomas Tuffin has a daughter at Miss Pinkerton’s Academy, in Vanity Fair.

WRITERS:
– Thomas Alexander Browne (1826-1915), English author who sometimes published under the pen name “Rolf Boldrewood”.
– Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), Scottish essayist, historian, philosopher, and satiricist.
– Thomas De Quincey (1785-1859), English essayist.
– Thomas Stearns (T.S.) Eliot (1888-1965), English critic, essayist, poet, and playwright.
– Thomas Gray (1716-1771), English poet and writer.
– Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), English novelist and poet.
– Thomas Hood (1799-1845), English humorist and poet.
– Thomas à Kempis (c. 1380-1471), German clergyman and writer.
– Thomas Edward (T.E.) Lawrence (1888-1935), British army officer and writer.
– Thomas Macaulay (1800-1859), British historian
– Thomas Mann (1875-1955), German writer.
– Thomas Merton (1915-1968), American activist, monk, mystic, poet, and writer.
– Thomas Moore (1779-1852), Irish poet and songwriter.
– Thomas More (1478-1535), English author and statesman.
– Thomas Paine (1737-1809), British-American author and revolutionary.
– Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938), American novelist.

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.

Elizabeth

July 28, 2014 § 22 Comments

ORIGIN:
From “Elisabet”, the Greek form of the Hebrew “Elisheva”, meaning “oath of God”.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Aliza, Alizabeth, Bess, Bessie, Bessy, Betje, Bette, Beth, Bethan, Bethann, Betsy, Bette, Bettie, Bettina, Betty, Bettye, Birdie, Birdy, Buffy, Elisabeth, Elisabetta, Elisaveta, Elise, Elisheva, Elissa, Eliza, Ella, Elle, Ellie, Elsa, Else, Elsie, Elsje, Elspet, Elspeth, Elyse, Erszebet, Ilsa, Ilse, Isa, Isabel, Isabella, Isabelle, Izabela, Let, Lettie, Letty, Liana, Libby, Liddy, Lies, Liesl, Liese, Lilian, Liliana, Lilibet, Lilibeth, Lillian, Lillie, Lilly, Lily, Lis, Lisa, Lisbeth, Lise, Lisette, Liz, Liza, Lizabeth, Lizbeth, Lizette, Lizy, Lizzie, Lizzy, Pet, Pettie, Tess, Tessie, Tessy, Tetty, Ysabel, Ysabet, etc.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
Elizabeth, maid-of-all-work for the Gray family while in Newport, in A Little Country Girl (1885), by Susan Coolidge.
Elizabeth Alden (called “Lizzie“), member of the Mayflower Club in A Garland for Girls, by Louisa May Alcott, 1887.
Elizabeth Bennet (called “Lizzy” or “Eliza” by her nearest and dearest), the clever, “fine-eyed” second Bennet daughter, and heroine of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (written in 1797, published in 1813).
– Middle name of Jenny Elizabeth Creighton (b. 1847), Jethro’s pretty sister, clever and strong-willed, in Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt (1964; set during the American Civil War, 1861-1865).
Elizabeth Horrocks (referred to as “Betsy” or “Ribbons”), the saucy butler’s daughter who tries to parlay the attention she gets from Sir Pitt into wealth, status, and a ladyship (through marriage), in Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray (published in 1847-48, but set in the 1810s-20s).
Lady Elizabeth Lennox, Dorothy and Humphrey’s grandmother, who hires Nurse Crumpet to care for her daughter Patience, and her adopted daughter Marian, in “Nurse Crumpet Tells the Story” (written in 1887, set circa 1630s-1669), from A Brother to Dragons, and Other Old Time Tales (1888), by Amélie Rives.
Elizabeth Martin, one of Robert Martin’s two sisters, who befriend Harriet Smith while they are students at Mrs. Goddard’s school for young ladies, in Jane Austen’s Emma (1815).
Elizabeth de Rochester, wife of Damer de Rochester, an ancestor of Mr. Rochester “slain at Marston Moor in the time of the civil wars”, whose tomb Jane notices in the church on her wedding day, in Jane Eyre, 1847, by Charlotte Bronte.

WRITERS:
– Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979), American poet and short story writer.
– Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973), Anglo-Irish novelist and short story writer.
– Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861), English poet.
– Elizabeth Carter (1717-1806), English classicist, poet, translator, and writer.
– Elizabeth Coatsworth (1893-1986), American poet and author.
– Elizabeth Craig (1883-1980), Scottish home economist, journalist, and writer.
Elizabeth Dodd (1909-1989), Scottish author and broadcaster who published under the pen name “Lavinia Derwent”.
– Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865), English novelist and short story writer.
– Elizabeth Goudge (1900-1984), English author.
– Elizabeth Hamilton (1756/58-1816), English essayist, novelist, satirist, and poet.
– Elizabeth Lowell (b. 1944), pen name of American novelist Ann (A.E.) Maxwell, who often collaborates with her husband, Evan Maxwell, and who also publishes under the pen name “Lowell Charters”.

QUOTATIONS:
– The classic children’s rhyming riddle: “Elizabeth, Elspeth, Betsy, and Bess, / They all went together to seek a bird’s nest. / They found a bird’s nest with five eggs in, / They all took one and left four in.” Since Elspeth, Betsy, and Bess are all diminutives of Elizabeth, all four names may refer to one person. And now you know how that riddle works.
– “Elizabeth“, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (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 Elizabeth herself described thusly: “But in meekness of spirit, and calmly, Elizabeth answered: / ‘All I have is the Lord’s, not mine to give or withhold it; / I but distribute his gifts to the poor . . . / His, not mine, are the gifts, and only so far can I make them / Mine, as in giving I add my heart to whatever is given . . .’ / . . . And Elizabeth answered with confident voice, and serenely / Looking into his face with her innocent eyes as she answered, / . . . For underneath that roof was no distinction of persons, / But one family only, one heart, one hearth, and one household. / . . . With them, but more sedately and meekly, Elizabeth Haddon / Sang in her inmost heart, but her lips were silent and songless. / . . . And John Estaugh made answer, surprised at the words she had spoken, / ‘Pleasant to me are thy converse, thy ways, thy meekness of spirit; / Pleasant thy frankness of speech, and thy soul’s immaculate whiteness, / Love without dissimulation, a holy and inward adorning. . . ‘ / . . . Patient and unrepining Elizabeth labored, in all things / Mindful not of herself, but bearing the burdens of others, / Always thoughtful and kind and untroubled . . . “

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