Edith here, always searching for names.
True, I have trouble remembering names. But that's not why I'm searching. Any author can tell you that discovering names for characters isn't always straightforward. The name has to fit the character. If I'm writing a tough strong woman, I'm unlikely to name her Susie or Tiffany, for example. I'm also unlikely to name a male villain after one of my sons.
And then there's keeping names distinct. If I have a continuing character named Kevin, I shouldn't name a new character Keith or Ken. To avoid this I try, within a book, to have only one character whose name begins with the same letter of the alphabet, at least within the gender. I think readers
won't be confused if I include Katie along with Kevin. And thus the importance of the character bible, my list of series characters and their characteristics. When I'm naming a new personality, I scan the list to make sure there isn't overlap.
But with the Quaker Midwife Mysteries, I also have to have period-appropriate names. How do I
database of names. Here's what the page I use says:
The following table shows the 200 most popular given names for male and female babies born during 1880 - 1889. For each rank and sex, the table shows the name and the number of occurrences of that name. The 200 most popular names were taken from a universe that includes 1,177,184 male births and 1,399,591 female births.
Edith, which essentially no one is named these days, is number 31 in frequency! Other older-sounding names include Flossie, Matilda, Etta, and Winifred for girls, and Otis, Silas, Tobias, Felix, and Sylvester for boys. I'm gonna bet you won't hear most of these in this year's kindergarten class.
In the Union Cemetery here in Amesbury, where the series is set, there is a Quaker section. Members of the Religious Society of Friends name the months and days of the week with numerals instead of the traditional names, so you know you're looking at a Quaker headstone when it says the person died on Fourth Day, Ninth Month, 1873. And from these stones I've learned that some of the Quaker family surnames were Huntington, Breed, Winslow, Latting, Stillwell, and Cartland.
Readers, what's your favorite old-fashioned name? Writers - where do you find inspiration for character names?