Names & Naming

This matter of names is of vital importance to those who practice the Arts. There is nothing about which they have to be more careful.

(P.G. Wodehouse, Over Seventy, 1957)


“[Her name] has to be something very little and very strong.”

(David Almond, Skellig, Hodder, 1998)


“How could anyone call a helpless little baby ‘Lionel’?”

(Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, The Winter Journey, 1997)


An absurdly long name for so small a girl. Aunt Martha always calls me Marguerite with an accent of strong disapproval. She does not like my name but she gives me the full benefit of it.”

(L. M. Montgomery, “A Sandshore Wooing”, 1908)


“It is not a name as I could wish any one that I had a respect for, to call me by; but there may be persons that would not view it with the same objections. – I don’t know why.”

(Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend, 1864-5)


“Nice and short, and not sentimental.”

“Yes, I like that . . . And not so ordinary these days as Mollie, for instance.”

(Elinor M. Brent-Dyer, Jo Returns to the Chalet School, 1936)


“I don’t mind telling you I don’t like the name. In fact, I think it’s a damn silly name. What’s more, if I had to call him by it I should feel very self-conscious.”

(Georgette Heyer, Death in the Stocks, 1935)


“But my first name is Thomas. Painfully prosaic.”

(Agatha Christie, The Body in the Library, 1941)


There was a small part of Tiffany’s brain that wasn’t too certain about the name Tiffany. She was nine years old and felt that Tiffany was going to be a hard name to live up to. Besides, she’d decided only last week that she wanted to be a witch when she grew up, and she was certain Tiffany just wouldn’t work. People would laugh.

(Terry Pratchett, The wee free men, Doubleday, 2003)


“I’ve never in my life been called Wilhelmina. It’s a frightful name. Everyone calls me Bill. After all, people call William Bill for short, don’t they? So my brothers said they’d call me Bill, short for Wilhelmina! If any of you calls me Wilhelmina I shall be miserable. I shan’t feel I’m myself.”

(Enid Blyton, Third Year at Malory Towers, 1948)

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