“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)



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)


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

(David Almond, Skellig, Hodder, 1998)


Jane hated her name. She didn’t just not like it. She knew that most people didn’t like their names. This was different. Hers she really hated. ….. It was repulsive and repugnant. It was an abomination. It was also easy to rhyme.

….Ever since she was small and people had asked, “What’s your name, dear?” she had noticed their eyes glaze over immediately she told them. When she replied, “Jane” they practically yawned in her face. They sometimes tried to make amends by saying quickly, “That’s a good, sensible name.”

Whoever wanted a sensible name?

(Theresa Breslin, Name Games, Mammoth, 1997)


“His father obstinately continues to call him Jacob and the boy himself has a perfectly unaccountable preference for the vulgar name.”

(L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea, 1909)


Jasper is not a reassuring name, and from its overtones alone I deduce that John Jasper did indeed murder Edwin Drood. It could, however, be a case of ‘give a dog a bad name and hang him’.

(John Sutherland, Who betrays Elizabeth Bennet? 1999)


It had pleasant connotations. Wisdom. Serenity. Innocence.

(Steve Lyons, Salvation, 1999)

« Older entries