• Deborah Yaffe

Name-dropping

It’s a well-established Janeite practice to name children and pets after Austen characters: while researching my book Among the Janeites, I met an adorable toddler called Elinor, and on my blog, I’ve written about a penguin known as Knightley and a rooster, a guinea pig, a chihuahua, and a rescue kitten, all named after Mr. Darcy.


Still, I’m a bit bemused by this list of “15 Dashing Boy Names for Fans of Jane Austen.”


It’s not just that one-third of the names on the list – Brandon, Charles, Frederick, George, and Thomas -- are hardly Austen-exclusive, or that I can’t imagine what kind of sadistic American parents would saddle their little boy with a moniker like Fitzwilliam or Knightley. (Isn’t that last one a penguin name?) I’m also passing over the peculiar gloss given to these names by the author of this listicle. (Frederick is “a subtle nod to Frederick Tilney” in Northanger Abbey? As if! You pierce my soul!)


Nor is it that I personally wouldn’t choose to name my kid Bennet, Edmund, Elliot, or Weston, admirable though the possessors of those names may be. It’s not even that I would wince at the spelling change required to call my child “Austin,” or worry that giving him the handle “Bates” would doom him to a life of “Master Bates” jokes and Psycho references.


No, it’s that I cannot imagine what kind of Jane Austen fan would even consider naming a child Elton or Collins. I mean – we’ve read the books, right?

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Copyright Deborah Yaffe, 2021