“I think it so ugly.”

“It’s the prettiest name in the Bible, and the name most fit for poetic use. Who does not remember Rachel weeping for her children?”

“That’s the idea and not the name. Ruth is twice prettier and Mary the sweetest of all.”

(Anthony Trollope, Rachel Ray, 1863)


If I wanted a girl to grow up beautiful I’d call her Elizabeth, and if I wanted her to be a good cook, I’d choose something like Mary or Jane.

(George Orwell, Letters)

Names & Naming

I wonder what would please her,
Charlotte, Julia or Louisa?
Ann and Mary, they’re too common;
Joan’s too formal for a woman;
Jane’s a prettier name beside;
But we had a Jane that died.
They would say, if ‘twas Rebecca,
That she was a little Quaker,
Edith’s pretty, but that looks
Better in old English books.
Ellen’s left off long ago:
Blanche is out of fashion now.

None that I have mentioned yet
Are so good as Margaret.
Emily is neat and fine.
What do you think of Caroline?
How I’m puzzled and perplexed
What to choose or think of next!
I am in a little fever
Lest the name that I shall give her
Should disgrace her or defame her.
I will leave Papa to name her.

(Charles Lamb, ‘Naming the Baby’, 1809)