Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Austen Names

I've had Jane Austen on the brain (per usual as we move into winter) so naturally that's the first thing I thought of when I recently saw the name "Emma" at the very top of the listing of the 2006 "most popular baby names."

I confess I usually check these lists out when I become aware of them. Sometimes it's because there's still a little part of me (broke, tired and with that biological clock ticking) dreaming about what we would name a second child, should we ever be so blessed. Other times I mostly look the list over out of curiosity, and to get a feel for potential character names. The lists need to be taken with a grain of salt, of course. I'm pretty sure the list I saw was only for the U.S.

Still, with "Emma" coming in at #1 in girls' names, I couldn't help but cast an eye out for other Austen character names, good Janeite that I am. Here's what I found:

Emma #1

Anna #32 (I figure Anna is close enough to Anne, as in Anne Elliot of Persuasion, to count)

Elizabeth #33 (spelled the way Elizabeth Bennet spells it, not the way I spell it)

Katherine #44 (which I'm fairly certain must be the full name of Kitty Bennet -- is that confirmed in the text anywhere? Kitty's not a very common nickname anymore!)

Caroline #68 (the snarky Miss Bingley!)

Charlotte #75 (I found that very has a very old-fashioned feel to it. I've always liked Charlotte Lucas from P&P)

Lucy #83 (as in Lucy Steele in S&S, another snarky gal)

What's more interesting, perhaps, than what's on the list is what's left off: no Jane, Mary, Lydia, Elinor, Marianne, or Harriet. And (hmmm...) no Fanny. Perhaps not too surprising, that one.

The boys' side of the column wasn't quite as interesting. A lot of mens' names seem to stay in fashion for a long time (John's at #42, Robert #71, Henry #86 -- although no Edward or George, I noticed). No Fitzwilliam, of course, but yes indeed, Colin came in at #58!


Erin said...

Hm, a bit surprised at no Mary, Jane or Edward. George too, maybe, though aside from my dear Mr. Weasley, all the Georges I know are quite a bit older... Interesting list!

And isn't it a shame Fitzwilliam has gone out of style? ;)

Beth said...

We've always had lots of Georges in our family -- my grandfather, dad and brother all three. But yes, my brother stopped the tradition and named his son Michael instead (and now he has two kids of his own and neither of them is a George either). I guess it's going out of style, though I still love it. Maybe the Weasleys will bring it back in!

Fitzwilliam is such a lovely name! ;-) Actually, I forgot to check for just plain Willliam. I would think it's there, although you never can tell. Lots of Celtic names are in right now. Top boy's name is actually Aiden...