A rose by any other name . . .
One of the things writers always seem to be discussing is names. Especially historical writers, but I think this applies equally across the board. You want your characters to have distinct and appropriate names, but when you’re writing an historical novel you don’t want to have Princess Brandi tramping about. I keep lists of names that I run across in historical documents, in non-fiction books about my period, etc.
Recently, prompted by a question on a discussion loop that I’m on I made a list of all the names in Who's Who in Late Hanoverian Britain and my 1779 edition of the Peerage. Mostly the same names show up over and over and over:
Then we have a few names, which while no where near as popular as those above, still show up quite a bit:
Then there are a smattering of names that still seem "normal", but show up only once or twice:
And then there are the fun ones, many of which seem like surnames used as first names to me:
Anne-Holles (!) yes, first name for a man
I’d guess that the vast majority of the writers I know are choosing names from this third set. As readers how do you feel about names? Do you care if half the heroes are named Henry or Thomas (as they probably would have been in real life), or do you like our penchant for the unusual?
Which of these two statements sums up your feeling:
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet?
A rose by any other name would wither and die?