BRIDGET WHELAN writer

August is archive month. Posts from the past

Names invented by Writers

Just back from a wonderful and very productive writing residency in Portugal . As I need to catch breath, unpack and get to grips with unanswered emails I thought I would give you a chance to read again (otherwise known as repeat) a list of first names invented by authors that I researched back in 2013 (when I should have been doing something else).
It is not a definitive list. There must be more names to discover. Can you add to it?

The name that most surprised me was Norma.

Norma JeanPhoto:wikipedia

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

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

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

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

 Charmaine
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.

 Claribel
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.

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

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

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

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

Coraline
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.

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

Evangeline
Created by Longfellow for his poem of the same name.

Fiona
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.

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

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

Jessica

first saw life in The Merchant of Venice apparently. Thanks to Maryanne for that information. Jesse as a male name has biblical roots.

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

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

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

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

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

 Norma
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

 Olivia
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’

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

 Stella
Nickname of a friend of Jonathan Swift

Thelma
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’.

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

 Vanessa
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.

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

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24 comments on “Names invented by Writers

  1. moondustwriter
    May 19, 2015

    that’s quite a list. Hope you had fun

    • bridget whelan
      May 19, 2015

      Thanks I did (both at the residency & doing not-strictly-necessary research)

  2. noelleg44
    May 19, 2015

    Something I didn’t know! Fascinating post! I always liked the name Belladonna Took from Lord of the RIngs, so I now have a character called Belladonna! Thanks, Bridget!

    • bridget whelan
      May 19, 2015

      I don’t remember Belladonna from Lord of the Rings but you’re absolutely right it is a cracker which leads me on to think that with the modern trend in name-giving we can be wildy imaginative in the names we give our characters. The Clintons have Chelsea and the Beckhams have Brooklyn so why not Bronx Davis or Hackney Cunningham?

  3. Portugal is wonderful! Bet your visit was delightful!

    • bridget whelan
      May 19, 2015

      It was wonderful. Found the place and the people engaging. I will be back and sooner rather than later, I hope

  4. Armand Rosamilia
    May 19, 2015

    Reblogged this on Armand Rosamilia.

  5. Let's CUT the Crap!
    May 19, 2015

    This is an interesting list. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  6. ghostmoth27
    May 19, 2015

    Fascinating!

  7. wendyannedarling
    May 19, 2015

    YES! My stance has been validated. I’ve been telling people forever that my name was invented for Peter Pan and nobody would believe me!

    • bridget whelan
      May 19, 2015

      Well, your parents must have known – I mean Wendy Darling IS the female lead

      • wendyannedarling
        May 20, 2015

        My name wasn’t Darling at the time, but people were very ‘into’ the meanings of first names and I told them Wendy didn’t have a meaning because it was made up. I’ve read that Barrie came up with it because he knew a little girl who called him her ‘friendy-wendy.’ 😀

  8. D. Wallace Peach
    May 20, 2015

    Amazing how common some of those are now. Fun post.

    • bridget whelan
      May 20, 2015

      Fiona was a real shock – I imagined that it would have been popular in 13th Scotland not a made up Celtic-sounding pen name only 100 or so years old

      • D. Wallace Peach
        May 20, 2015

        I love how made up words and names from an author’s imagination become part of our vocabulary. I’m always trying to play scrabble words that don’t exist – but I know I read them somewhere!

  9. Valerie de Schaller
    May 28, 2015

    Hi Bridget, loving your list of invented names, what a lot of work you put in. Didn’t know Anne Rice had invented the name Lestat. He featured in her first book, Interview With the Vampire too, and in the third, Queen of the Damned in which he woos and wakes up the original vampire female goddess. I thought that in The Tale of the Bodythief she was making Lestat grab at the straws of his existence.

    During my 6 months in New Orleans, I went to Anne Rice’s house, a gothic mansion off St Charles. Nobody answered when I rang the doorbell. I was quite glad, I would have only raved about her books which she probaby got that all the time. She later published her phone number in the local Lafayette Gazette and I called. She’d left a long answer message about how Lestat had left her and she was moving on. Yet she couldn’t help herself – he popped up again in Blood and Gold, the story of Lestat’s maker Marius.

    How I loved her books, they drew me to New Orleans in the first place. Might have to re-read. And my favourite Sting song is “Moon Over Bourbon Street”, inspired by her Vampire Chronicles. You know it?

    Take care,
    Valerie

  10. Pingback: Names invented by writers | The Proof Angel

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