“Your father, being clean besotted about you, must needs choose some fanciful name for you. Star-bright eyes you had, he said . . . and the starlight was bright on your face when I looked at you for the first time, so Stella it had to be, though the name don’t go well with Sprigg to my way of thinking.”

(Elizabeth Goudge, Gentian Hill, 1950)


“I have no objection to your addressing me as Oliver, but ‘Merely Oliver’ I’m damned if I’ll tolerate!”

(Georgette Heyer, Lady of Quality, 1972)


Magdalen! It was a strange name to have given her? Strange indeed; and yet, chosen under no extraordinary circumstances. The name had been borne by one of Mr Vanstone’s sisters, who had died in early youth; and, in affectionate remembrance of her, he had called his second daughter by it…

Magdalen! Surely, the grand old Bible name – suggestive of a sad and sombre dignity; recalling, in its first association, mournful ideas of penitence and seclusion – had been here, as events had turned out, inappropriately bestowed?

(Wilkie Collins, No Name, 1862)


“I have a horrible feeling that [my first name is] Lancelot.

“Good God!” said Archie. “It couldn’t really be that, could it?”

(P. G. Wodehouse, The Indiscretions of Archie, 1921)


“She’s called Kylie or Krystal, or one of those made-up names.”

(Terry Pratchett, Only You Can Save Mankind, 1992)


I rather like Judy. It’s such a silly name. It belongs to the kind of girl I’m not – a sweet little blue-eyed thing, petted and spoiled by all the family, who romps her way through life without any cares.

(Jean Webster, Daddy-Long-Legs, 1912)


Jemima, in spite of its ugliness, became generally popular in the 19th C and was for a time a really common name.

(E.G. Withycome, Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names, 1945)


“She’s got a pretty name. It’ll do for my collection – I’m collecting pretty names.”

(Elinor M. Brent-Dyer, Three Go to the Chalet School, 1948)


“It seems to me that parents who spend nine months thinking up names could do better than Jake . . . It’s such an ugly name. Sharp and pointy.”

(Caroline B. Cooney, I’m Not Your Other Half, 1984)