Percival

October 7, 2015 § 1 Comment

ORIGIN:
Alternate spelling of “Perceval”, a name created for the poem Perceval, or the Story of the Grail, written in the 12th century by French poet Chrétian de Troyes; possibly influenced by the Old French for “to pierce the valley” or “to perceive the veil (of religious mystery)”.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Parsifal, Parzifal, Perce, Perceval, Percevale, Percie, Percy, Percyvelle.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
Percival Tweedie, the “eligible bachelor” silversmith who comes to join Lapham as partner after Johnny’s accident, in Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes (written in 1943; set during the years leading up to the American Revolutionary War, 1773-1775).

WRITERS:
Percival Everett (b. 1956), American novelist, professor, and short story writer.
Percival Pickering (1865-1965), pen name of English author Anna Marie Wilhelmina (A.M.W.) Pickering.
Percival Pollard (1869-1911), American critic, novelist, and short story writer.
Percival Serle (1871-1951), Australian bibliographer and biographer.
Percival Spear (1901-1982), English educator, government worker, and historian.
Percival Stockdale (1736-1811), English poet, reformer, and writer.
Percival Wilde (1887-1953), American author and playwright.
Percival Christopher (P.C.) Wren (1875-1941), English author and educator.

Priscilla

September 9, 2015 § 2 Comments

ORIGIN:
Diminutive of “Prisca”, from a Roman family name meaning “ancient” or “of ancient birth”.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Cece, Cila, Cili, Cilka, Cilla, Cille, Pricila, Pricilla, Pris, Prisca, Priscila, Priska, Priskilla, Prissie, Prissy, Scilla, Sileas, Silja, Silje, Silke, Sile, Sille, Sisi, Sissie, Sissy, Zilla, etc.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
– Priscilla Lapham (called “Cilla“), Mrs. Lapham’s devoted, reliable, practical teenaged daughter, who remains a true friend to Johnny through all the turmoil of Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes (written in 1943; set during the years leading up to the American Revolutionary War, 1773-1775).

WRITERS:
Priscilla (1735-1812), pen name of English activist, reformer, and writer Ann Jebb.
Priscilla Buckley (1921-2012), American author and editor.
Priscilla Galloway (b. 1930), Canadian children’s book author.
Priscilla Napier (1908-1998), English author and biographer.
Priscilla Uppal (b. 1974), Canadian novelist, playwright, and poet.
Priscilla Wakefield (1751-1832), English activist, children’s book author, and writer.

Susan

June 10, 2015 § 6 Comments

ORIGIN:
An English variation of “Susanna”, from the Hebrew “Shoshannah”, meaning “lily” or “rose”.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Sanna, Sanne, Sawsan, Shoshana, Shoshannah, Sooki, Sookie, Sooky, Sousanna, Su, Sue, Susana, Susanita, Susann, Susanna, Susannah, Susanne, Suse, Susey, Susi, Susie, Susy, Sukey, Suki, Sukie, Suzan, Suzana, Suzann, Suzanna, Suzannah, Suzanne, Suze, Suzelle, Suzette, Suzey, Suzi, Suzie, Suzy, Zana, Zanna, Zooey, Zooie, Zsazsa, Zsuzsa, Zsuzsanna, Zsuzsi, Zsuzsu, Zu, Zula, Zuza, Zuzana, Zuzanka, Zuzanna, Zuzi, Zuzia, Zuzka, Zuzu, etc.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
Susan Hassan, one of Lily’s best friends, and a natural enemy of her other best friend, Diana, in Sleeping Arrangements, by Laura Cunningham (published 1989, set in the 1950s).

WRITERS:
– Susan Coolidge (1835-1905), pen name of American children’s book writer Sarah Chauncey Woolsey.
– Susan Glaspell (1876-1948), American actress, journalist, novelist, and playwright.
– Susan Eloise (S.E.) Hinton (b. 1948), American children’s book writer, novelist, and screenwriter.

QUOTATIONS:
– From the popular ballad “Black Ey’d Susan, or Sweet William’s Farewell“, by John Gay, first published in 1730: “The noblest captain in the British fleet, / Might envy William’s lips those kisses sweet. / ‘O Susan, Susan, lovely dear, / My vows shall ever true remain; / Let me kiss off that falling tear, / We only part to meet again. / Change, as ye list, ye winds; my heart shall be / The faithful compass that still points to thee. / ‘Believe not what the landsmen say, / Who tempt with doubts thy constant mind: / . . . ‘If to far India’s coast we sail, / Thy eyes are seen in diamonds bright, / Thy breath is Afric’s spicy gale, / Thy skin is ivory, so white. / Thus every beauteous object that I view, / Wakes in my soul some charm of lovely Sue. / ‘Though battle call me from thy arms, / Let not my pretty Susan mourn; / Though cannons roar, yet safe from harms, / William shall to his dear return.’”

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.

Fanny

August 2, 2014 § 4 Comments

ORIGIN:
Diminutive of “Frances” or “Francisca” (feminine versions of “Francis“, meaning “Frenchman”), or of “Stefania”, etc.

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

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
Fanny, a cousin of Col. Brandon’s, who Mrs. Jennings guesses may have recently married, in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility(set between 1792-1797, published in 1811).
Fanny Bludyer, a friend of the social-climbing Maria Bullock (née Osborne) Fanny Bludyer, a friend of the social-climbing Maria Bullock (née Osborne) in Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray (published in 1847-48, but set in the 1810s-20s).
Fanny de Butterbrod, a Countess of Pumpernickel who nearly captures Joseph Sedley’s all-too-susceptible heart in Vanity Fair.
Fanny Crawley, one of the Rev. Bute Crawley’s daughters in Vanity Fair.
Fanny Dashwood (née Ferrars), John Dashwood’s wife and Edward Ferrar’s sister, a cold, greedy, snobbish woman with no consideration for others, in Sense and Sensibility.
Fanny (called “Fan“) Fletcher, a friend of Jessie Delano who needs dancing lessons, in “An Ivy Spray and Ladies’ Slippers”, from A Garland for Girls, by Louisa May Alcott, 1887.
Fanny Hamlin, Susy’s best friend in “Susy’s Dragon”, from The Youngest Miss Lorton, and Other Stories by Nora Perry (1889).
Fanny Magenis, one of the army wives who make up the social circle for Amelia Sedley after her marriage to George Osborne, in Vanity Fair.
Fanny Scape, who, with her sister and mother, “fade away to Boulogne” after her father’s failure in the firm of Fogle, Fake, and Cracksman, in Vanity Fair.
Fanny (Frances) Wentworth, Will’s conceited, snobbish cousin in “That Little Smith Girl” from Nora Perry’s A Flock of Girls and Boys (1895).

WRITERS:
Fanny (Frances) Burney (1752-1840), English diarist, novelist, and playwright.
Fanny Crosby (1820-1915), American composer, lyricist, mission worker, and poet.
Fanny de Beauharnais (1737-1813), French salon-holder, socialite, and woman-of-letters.
Fanny Fern (1811-1872), pen name of American children’s book writer, columnist, humorist, and novelist, Sara Willis.
Fanny Howe (b. 1940), American novelist, poet, and short story writer.
Fanny Kemble (1809-1893), English actress and writer.
Fanny Lewald (1811-1889), German activist and author.

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.

Edward

August 2, 2014 § 7 Comments

ORIGIN:
Anglo-Saxon, meaning “keeper of prosperity” or “rich / blessed guard”.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Duarte, Eadweard, Ed, Edd, Eddi, Eddie, Edouard, Eduard, Eduardo, Edvard, Eddward, Eddy, Eideard, Eward, Ned, Nedd, Neddie, Neddy, Ted, Tedd, Teddie, Teddy, etc.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
Edward Dale, a young stockbroker who is sweet on Amelia Sedley in Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray (published in 1847-48, but set in the 1810s-20s).
Edward Ferrars, Fanny Dashwood’s brother, a shy, unambitious man who, though he may lack the passion Marianne looks for in a man, possesses the warm heart, affectionate temper, and good sense that Elinor finds attractive, in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (set between 1792-1797, published in 1811).
Edward Fairfax Rochester, the moody and passionate master of Thornfield, in Jane Eyre, 1847, by Charlotte Bronte.

WRITERS:
– Edward Anhalt (1914-2000), American film-maker, producer, and screenwriter.
– Edward Bradley (1827-1889), English clergyman and novelist.
– Edward FitzGerald (1809-1883), English poet and writer.
– Edward Gibbon (1737-1794), English historian.
– Edward S. Hudson (b. 1947), pen name of American fantasy, science fiction, and Western author Robert E. Vardeman, who has also published under the pen names “Cliff Garnett”, “Daniel Moran”, “F.J. Hale”, “Jackson Lowry”, “Karl Lassiter”, “Paul Kenyon”, and “Victor Appleton”.
– Edward Zane Carroll (E.Z.C.) Judson, Sr. (1821-1886), American journalist, publicist, publisher, and writer who also wrote under the pen name Ned Buntline.
– Edward Lear (1812-1888), English artist, author, and poet.
– Edward (Ned) Ward (1667-1731), English publican and satirist.

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.

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