Though I love the names of our faith, there’s another category of names that delights me as well: names drawn from or inspired by literature. When that literature has ties to our faith — whether through its story lines, or because its author is known to be Catholic or have a Catholic-compatible worldview — the characters’ or authors’ names often provide appealing fodder for Catholic couples choosing names for their children.This past year, I had the great privilege of sharing the births of a little Lewis and a little Clive, both named for C.S., and a little guy with the middle name Peregrin, spelled that way to nod to the character of Peregrin Took in Lord of the Rings. (Tea with Tolkien has a great list of other Tolkien-inspired names.) I know of a little boy named Gabriel Keith and a family who had Gemma Katharine on their list for a girl, and I know that both sets of parents delight in the idea of initials matching those of G.K. Chesterton. Gabriel Keith has a sister named Elanor, which is the name of a flower and a child in Lord of the Rings.
Flannery is often at the top of the list for book-loving Catholic parents, and I know a couple of little Flannerys as a result. One of them has sisters named Harper and Willa — an amazingly literary set of sisters!And when this family named their first two children Julia and Sebastian, all I could think was Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh.
I wrote about literary names a while ago, and some of the authors whose books and names my readers and I thought would appeal to expectant parents included Willa Cather (one reader said, “Lucy Gayheart and Brideshead together really brought Sebastian onto my potential-baby-name radar; it’s currently my front runner if I ever have another boy!”), Rumer Godden (who was actually the inspiration behind actors Bruce Willis and Demi Moore naming their daughter Rumer), A.J. Cronin, Walter Miller, Jr., Ellis Peters (real name Edith Pargeter), Victor Hugo, François Mauriac, and even Shakespeare.
I recently read I am Margaret by Corinna Turner and found the main character of Margaret (Margo) so amazing that the names Margaret and Margo now have an added layer of significance for me in addition to the Sts. Margaret that I love. And each of the six books in Regina Doman’s The Fairy Tale Novels have characters with great names — because of them, I have a soft spot for the name Bear for a boy.
Are there any names from literature that you love? Are there any that speak to you on a faith level as well as a literary level? What other books or authors would you add to those I mention here?
Copyright 2018 Katherine Morna Towne
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