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:
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 interesting...it 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!