Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Literary Names #1 - The Secret Garden

For those of us who are both name fans and avid readers, fantasizing about naming your future kids after your favorite characters can be incredibly tempting. I mean, how cute would a little Hermione be? But to save a child from years of the same comments - "'Your parents are Harry Potter fans, huh?" - it can be a better idea to give a child an homage name, rather than a direct namesake.

In an effort to expand my interest in names, I've decided to flex my naming muscles and take on popular literature. For each "Literary Names" installment, I'll be taking characters from a book and updating their names as an homage. Let me know what you think!

Today's installment: The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Putting aside that fact that Frances is an adorable vintage name, this book was one of my favorites as a kid. There are also only a few main characters, which should make this first try doable. Let's begin!

Mary Lennox..... Mari Elowen
I didn't want to stray too far from Mary, which means "bitter" - an excellent adjective for the character at the beginning of the book, so I chose a Welsh variant of the name. As for Lennox, I considered the up-and-coming Lennon, but it was a bit too masculine to fit with Mari. Lennox translates to "place of elms" in Gaelic, so I looked up names that mean "elm" and found Elowen! I like that the n-ending grounds the name, being that Mari is so light. "MarI ELowen" also flows together nicely.

Colin Craven..... Cole Perrin
Colin itself is a fabulous name, but I chose another diminutive of Nicholas slightly behind it in popularity - Cole. Again, I looked up the meaning of the surname: Craven means "rocky place". Perrin is a diminutive of Peter, which means "rock".

Dickon Sowerby..... Rico Dumas
Much more Latin than the first two, I've continued the pattern: Rico is another diminutive of Richard, like Dickon. Dumas means "of the little farm", an homage to SOWERby. Dumas also allows for a second literary reference in addition to The Secret Garden - Alexandre Dumas is known for The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo.

Martha Sowerby..... Mattie Leighton
The original name struck me as rather fussy, so I've made it more modern and tomboyish. Mattie is a diminutive of Martha that is currently at #958, while Leighton, which means "meadow town", comes in at #540. The name is also upbeat and friendly, like Martha's character.

Ben Weatherstaff..... Benjamin Robin
This is more of a guilty pleasure name than an homage, but Benjamin has always been a favorite. As for Robin! Ben Weatherstaff talks a bit about his "friend", a robin who hangs around him in the garden. Why not put the pair together in a name?

Archibald Craven..... Emery Mason
While Archie is climbing the charts, I still think of it as a name associated with fussy old men. Archibald, however, means "truly brave", so I chose another name with the same meaning, Emery. It's currently at #161 for girls and #687 for boys, and I think it works either way. Mason, while popular, isn't in use much as a middle name - it's strength is clear next to Emery.

What do you think? What would you do differently? And any suggestions for future books to try this out with?

1 comment:

  1. Hi--I really enjoyed this post and wonder if it would be possible to republish it on Nameberry.,