The baby names authors choose for their actual babies


I’m actually curious! I do not have children, but I always thought that if I DID, I would name a girl Elizabeth. That’s because a girl can do practically anything with that name.

Regal – Elizabeth

Gentle – Beth

Hoydenish – Lizzie

Crisp – Liz or Bet

And on and on. Bee, Bess, Ela, Eliza, Liza, Zibby, there’s practically no end to the possibilities, and that’s why I like this name.

I never picked one out for a boy. I’m not sure there is such an ultimately flexible boy’s name. Is there? Anybody got a candidate?

I used to prefer unusual names for my dogs. Lotka and Volterra were my Papillons. Feel free to laugh if you recognize those names. I was in grad school at the time. I had an instructor who taught Population and Community Ecology and named his dog Poco. I mean, it’s pretty typical to name your pets things like that in that environment.

My spaniels have been Kerah, Pippa, Adora = Dora, Effie (this was way before The Hunger Games), Bree, a lot of others, of course, but I seem to have accidentally shifted to more normal names, such as Kimmie (Kimberlyn Rose) and Conner (Konstantine). My youngest are Naamah and Morgan (Le Fey). “Naamah” is possibly a little less like a typical person name. Goggling it now, the first hit is Naamah — mother of demons. That sort of funny and nt at all appropriate. Alas. I do wish Naamah were going to be the mother of puppies, but pyometra = not the mother of anything, unfortunately.

It actually means “beautiful” and “agreeable” and “pleasant” in Hebrew. That’s where that name came from. At least all that still fits her.

Anyway, sure, what DO authors name their own children?

Most authors create more books than offspring (Tolstoy is the only exception I know of, with 13 children). And each book has dozens of characters to name. So I’m assuming many writers save their favorite names for their children. Or in some cases their children share names with some of their most iconic characters. I suppose their spouses probably had some say in the matter too!

This curiosity led me down a deep research rabbit hole. One that many probably find boring, but I got more and more interested in with each Wikipedia article I clicked on. Without further babbling from me, here are the names over 60 authors chose for their own children.

William Shakespeare’s three children were named Hamnet, Judith, and Susan.

I knew that because of an Ngaio Marsh mystery featuring a play about Hamnet. I mean, that’s the one I knew about. I didn’t even know Shakespeare had daughters; they didn’t come up in the book, as far as I can remember.

“Ngaio” is certainly an unusual name. I always wondered about it. Seems like a good time to look it up. Okay, here: The name Ngaio is girl’s name of Maori origin meaning “reflections on the water”. New Zealand writer Ngaio (born Edith Ngaio) Marsh is the best-known bearer of this Maori nature name, properly pronounced ng (like the end of sing) -EYE-oh.

Well, I’m glad to know that.

Meanwhile: Just scanning down the very extensive list of authors … looks like essentially all of them resisted the urge to be overly creative. Well, most, anyway. There are a few about whom one might wonder. Perhaps A A Milne’s son didn’t mind being named Christopher Robin, though it seems a potentially hazardous choice.

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7 thoughts on “The baby names authors choose for their actual babies”

  1. Christopher Robin in the Pooh books was named for the author’s son, and the son hated it, from what I read.

  2. I had Elizabeth picked out as one of the two names for a possible daughter too, for the same reasons plus that it’s my sister’s middle name.

    I can’t think of any boy’s name that is as versatile as Elisabeth, but Johannes has a fair amount of flexibilty, at least in Dutch: Johannes, Johan, Jan, Jon, Jo, John, Sjon, Han, Hans, Hannes, Jannes (a bit old-fashioned or regional); and maybe Nes, but that is rare and would be more likely as an abbreviation of Nestor.
    I don’t think all of those are used in English naming conventions, so it may be less useful there.

  3. Oh, I’m sure you’re right about Christopher Robin. That does make more sense.

    Hanneke, I think the American version would be Jonathan. Not as versatile, but there are at least some options there.

  4. Johannes is a form of John, or rather both are a form of Yohanan. Lots of variety. Especially if you rove over foreign forms. Everything from Sean to Ivan.

  5. I always said I would pick a name that’s recognizably a name, but old-fashioned enough that no-one else is using it. Unique without being weird. There were ALWAYS other Debbies in my classes at school, and my niece had the same issue with Tiffanys being everywhere. But how often do you come across a Marion or Freda these days?

    Oh, and while scrolling through German baptism records from the 1700s last night, I came across several girls named Lisabeth, which I thought was a lovely variation of Elizabeth.

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