“There’s such a vogue for fancy names nowadays [1890s]. All your Cuthberts and Wilfreds and Percivals. Perhaps I am merely being perverse, but I feel a desire for something absolutely plain for him. I imagine him in a few years’ time when he’s a sturdy boy running about, and I can’t imagine myself calling out ‘Clarence!’ or ‘Algernon!’ or ‘Phineas!’ . . . . Jack. That’s a nice, plain, manly name.”

(Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, The Homecoming, 2001)


“What a fine name the hero of that story had,” she said aloud. “If I were a man I would wish my parents had called me that.”

(1001 Arabian Nights adapted by Geraldine McCaughrean.)


He always signed his name “Henery” – strenuously insisting upon that spelling, and if any passing schoolmaster ventured to remark that the second ‘e’ was superfluous and old-fashioned, he received the reply that ‘H-e-n-e-r-y’ was the name he was christened and the name he would stick to – in the tone of to whom orthographical differences were matters which had a great deal to do with personal character.

(Thomas Hardy, Far from the madding crowd, 1874)


Priss felt in awe of a person who could fasten a name like that onto a baby. “Aren’t you afraid he’ll be called ‘Icky’ in school?”

(Mary McCarthy, The group, 1963)


“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)


“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)


“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)


“It sounds so manly. That makes it so suitable for you. I like a man who looks like his name.”

(Erskine Caldwell, The Earnshaw neighbourhood, 1971)


“I say, what a funny name!” said Polly.

“It isn’t half as funny as Polly,” said Digory.

(C. S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew, 1955)


“You seem fond of [your name] in speaking it so decisively, Gabriel Oak.”

“You see, it is the only one I shall ever have, and I must make the most of it.”

(Thomas Hardy, Far from the madding crowd, 1874)

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