for writers and readers….

Did you know these LITERARY NAMES were invented by authors?

feetThis post is really about the dangers of being seduced by research. It all started with a tiny snippet of irrelevant information on twitter telling me that a popular girl’s name was invented by Shakespeare. Hmm, I thought I wonder how many other names have been created by writers…and several hours later this is the result.
I’m not pretending it is definitive list. Or a useful one. Or that it will add to your general well being but hey, I had to do something with it and who would have thought that boring old Elizabethan Edmund Spenser would top the poll.

Invented by Edmund Spenser for his poem ‘The Faerie Queen’

The elf princess in Tolkein’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’

Invented by Margaret Mitchell. Carreen was the younger sister of Scarlet in Gone with the Wind.

A prince in two of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books, probably named after the Caspian Sea in Russia.

Invented by playwright Maxwell Anderson and Laurence Stallings for a 1924 play What Price Glory set at the end of WWI. A few years later the play was made into a silent film and was remade in 1952 with James Cagney in the lead and a young Richard Wagner in a minor role. In the 1960s the Irish group The Bachelor’s had a hit song called Charmaine.

Another Edmund Spenser name and again it first appears in his poem The Faerie Queene. She was also a Shakespearian character (The Tempest) and Tennyson wrote a poem called Claribel in 1830.

Used by Lawrence Durrell in The Alexandria Quartet published in the late 1950s.

French playwright Racine used the name in his 1667 play Andromache.

Created by 16th century Italian poet Torquato Tasso in the poem ‘Jerusalem Delivered’

A name invented by James Fenimore Cooper for the heroine of the American classic The Last of the Mohicans written in 1826.

Not quite a literary invention, more an accidental discovery of a name that had been out of fashion for about 200 years. Coraline is the name of the main character and title of Neil Gaiman’s horror/fantasy novella of 2002, it started life as a typo. He intended to write Caroline.

Short form of Dorothy or Theodora, but first used as an independent name by Charles Dickens in David Copperfield.

Created by Longfellow for his poem of the same name.

Hard to believe, but this quintessentially ancient Celtic name was invented by a Victorian novelist – a Scottish one called William Sharp who used it as a pen-name to add an air of authenticity to a series of books on Celtic myths and legends.

The name of the good witch in Frank Baum’s ‘The Wizard of Oz’.

Short form of Adelaide or Adelheid but used independently in Johanna Spyri’s children’s novel Heidi set in the Swiss Alps.

The name of Anne Rice’s undead hero. The Vampire Lestat published in 1985 was the second in her Vampire chronicles.

Invented by R.D. Blackmore for his novel Lorna Doone

Invented by James Macpherson in the 18th century for a character in his Ossianic poems.

Created by Lord Byron in his poem ‘The Corsair’.

Some sources suggest it was invented by Shakespeare for the character in ‘The Tempest’

Is not the female version of Norman which means man from the north. The name was probably invented by Felice Romani, an Italian poet working at the beginning of the 19th century and writing mainly for opera. In Bellini’s 1832 tragic opera ‘Norma’, the main character is a druid priestess at the time of the Roman invasion of England

The name that started this post because I was intrigued when I discovered that it was first used by Shakespeare. He invented it for his heroine of ‘Twelfth Night’

Created by Sir Phillip Sidney for his poem ‘Arcadia’ in 1590.

Nickname of a friend of Jonathan Swift

Created by Marie Corelli the most popular novelist at the end of the end of the 19th century – said to be Queen Victoria’s favourite writer and the inspiration for Lucia in F.E Benson’s Mapp and Lucia books (and I envy you if you haven’t read them because you have that treat ahead of you.) One of Corelli’s best-selling novels was called ‘Thelma: A Norwegian Princess’.

Yet another name invented by Edmund Spenser for his poem ‘The Faerie Queen’

Jonathan Swift invented the name for his 1713 poem ‘Cadenus and Vanessa’ as a compliment to a woman friend Esther Vanhomrigh, taking parts of her first and last names to create it.

Perhaps the most famous invented name of all – no girl was called Wendy before J.M. Barrie’s play ‘Peter Pan’

Have you come across an interesting ‘invented’ name? Or have you also wasted valuable writing time doing non-essential research?

Here’s a TWEETABLE (if you like this post, please share it)
What links Fiona, Una and Wendy? They were all invented by writers. Find 27 more literary names  TWEET

photo credit: merra m. via photopin cc

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11 comments on “Did you know these LITERARY NAMES were invented by authors?

  1. Vikki Thompson
    June 26, 2013

    Wow….I didn’t know about most of them! 🙂


  2. bridget whelan
    June 26, 2013

    Nor did I when I started. Fiona really surprised me.

  3. Pingback: The most popular posts of 2013 were about publishing opportunities, the Nobel Prize and a rather misleading X rated story… | BRIDGET WHELAN writer

  4. philipparees
    June 20, 2014

    Very interesting, many much more recent than I supposed. Now what about a list of descriptive names for which Trollope would seem the natural master?

  5. Maryanne (mfantaliswrites)
    October 12, 2014

    I thought for sure the Shakespearean invention you were talking about was Jessica, which he invented for “The Merchant of Venice.” This was a really interesting blog post. I had wondered about some of these myself.

    • bridget whelan
      October 12, 2014

      Jessica?1 I didn’t know that – thanks for letting me know.

  6. amandachen
    December 30, 2015

    Mostly nonsense

    • bridget whelan
      December 30, 2015

      I wrote this post about the dangers of research – I was thinking about how it can be addictive and how much time can be wasted. But clearly getting it wrong is far worse. To err is human, to forgive is divine. Please put me right!

  7. frenchc1955
    January 12, 2016

    Thank you for following my blog!

  8. Cynthia Reyes
    April 9, 2016

    How interesting. I did not know this.

  9. kimberlywenzler
    May 18, 2017

    So interesting! I had no idea. And yes, I’ve wasted a lot of valuable time doing research like this.:-)

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