The Jane Austen Name Report

Jul 24th 2014

The name Austin is a mix of Texas twang and Austin Powers swing. A tiny spelling shift to Austen produces something else entirely: a literary homage.

It's fitting that Jane Austen's surname, rather than her given name Jane, is the usual path to honoring her work. The characters she created, particularly the men, are remembered primarily by their surnames. In part, this reflects the manners of the time. One can hardly imagine calling out "Hiya, George!" to Mr. Knightley, the proper gentleman of Emma. But it also reflects the baby-name world that Austen inhabited and passed on to her characters.

Thanks to the Austen devotees at "The Republic of Pemberley," I was able to tally up the 146 characters in Jane Austen novels who have both first and last names. Here are their first names in Wordle form, with the font size representing frequency of occurrence:

If you saw that name cloud out of context, I can't imagine you would have guessed its source. It's recognizably English, but nothing about it specifically screams "Jane Austen!" Yet it's a faithful representation, not only of Austen's work but of the setting of her own life.

16% of men in Jane Austen novels are named John. Her top 10 men's names account for 72% of her male population. In real-life England in the year 1810, those numbers were 19% and 85%. Given the need to keep characters distinct in the narrative, that's a remarkably realistic namescape. (The numbers would be even closer if you converted nicknames to full names.)

That doesn't mean that Austen's character names are a pure historical abstract. Her women's names are a bit more diverse than reality; "only" 52% of Austen women have a top-10 name. Even among the men, you'll see leanings that may reflect name trends among Austen's circle of acquaintance, or simply her own tastes. William, the 2nd most common name in Regency England, is seldom heard in her books, while men named Charles are legion.

Then there are the little quirks which bring a naming worldview to life. For instance, nine men in Austen bear the title Captain, and two of those have a first name. Both are called Frederick. They are the only Fredericks in her books.

Overall, though, the names in Austen world are resolutely normal, which in her age meant repetitive. In six novels, we meet 20 characters named John or Mary. As a result, character names play little role in defining the characters. Even the more diverse surnames provide few clues. "Mr. Bingley," "Mr. Wickham." Which one is wealthier? Which one is the cad?

This even playing field of names is a huge contrast with most modern literature, and with the modern world itself. Remember how 85% of men in Austen's England had a top-10 name? In England today, the top 10 names account for only 15% of boys. In the United States, it's 8%.

Imagine a world where you couldn't draw any conclusions about a person from his name. A world where a titled lady and a chambermaid were likely to share the same name. Where one boy in every five could be called John, and nobody was traumatized by having to share. You don't have to imagine: it's all in the pages of six novels that transcend time.

Comments

1
July 24, 2014 8:37 PM

You know what would be fun? A quiz asking you to link such Wordle-clouds of character names with their respective authors. I expect someone like J.K. Rowling would be dead easy to identify, but the Brontë sisters and Austen would be nigh-impossible to tell apart.

I've been trying, and failing, to come up with a way to characterize/quantify an author's *distinctive* names -- the ones that are only given to one or two characters, but that make everyone immediately think of that character, or at least that author. For Austen, one such name is Georgiana. For the Brontë sisters, Heathcliff, St. John, and Shirley-on-a-girl would qualify. On a Wordle image, these names are barely big enough to read, yet they're inextricably linked to their authors. (Another illustration of how the real world defies statistics.)

2
July 25, 2014 2:50 PM

I like the idea of thinking of distinctive names that . I have been trying to think of what I could come up with off the top of my head: Gilbert for L. M. Montgomery,  Jo for Louisa Alcott, Almonzo for Laura Ingalls Wilder. Anyone else think of any?

3
July 26, 2014 12:53 AM

Smollett: Launcelot (Greaves), Roderick (Random), Peregrine (Pickle). Humphry (Clinker)

Sterne: Tristram (Shandy)

Dickens: Uriah (Heep), Ebenezer (Scrooge), Barnaby (Rudge)  Actually Dickens has few peers when it comes to bizarre, one-of-a-kind names http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Dickensian_characters Enjoy

Mervyn Peake (now there's a name): Titus (Groan), Fuchsia (Groan)  Peake's names are Dickensian in feel http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gormenghast_(series)#Characters_of_the_series

Tolkien: Frodo, Bilbo, Gandalf, and so many others, never to be mistaken for anyone else's characters

And if the names are Hermione, Ginevra, Severus, and Hagrid?

4
July 26, 2014 2:37 AM

Just a little correction, I believe. You could tell something of a character from their name as the working classes tended to use Biblical names more often than the elite. With the exception of John, Mary, and Elizabeth, and Anne, the upper classes tended to favor Norman names like Henry, William, and Richard, and Charlotte. A Joseph or Hannah was much more likely to be a servant than an employer.

5
July 26, 2014 4:00 AM

Charlotte's not a Norman name.  It doesn't come into use until the Early Modern period, c. 17th century.  The big Norman aristocratic female name is Matilda (Maude).  Others would include Adela/Adeliza, Agatha, Cecilia, Constance, Joan, Isabella, Petronilla, Nichola, Sybil, Margaret, Marie, Mabel, Lucy, Alice, Agnes, Elizabeth, Beatrice, Judith, Adelaide, Aenor, Anna, Emma, and even such unusual names as Olive, Tiffany, Gunnora, and Gundrada (these last reflect the Viking origins of the Normans).

6
July 26, 2014 4:51 AM

You're right - Charles is Germanic. I was focused on non-biblical origin names. Joan, Marie, Elizabeth, Anna would be Norman versions of Hebrew/Aramaic names, no?

7
July 26, 2014 11:42 AM

It's not a matter of Germanic.  Many of the great Norman names like Robert, Richard, William, and Henry, Matilda and Adela, are all Germanic.  The reason Charlotte is not a Norman name is that it wasn't used by the Normans.  It didn't come into use until the 17th century, long after the time of the Normans. My definition of a Norman name in this case is a name attested in use by members of the Norman aristocracy, be it in Normandy, England, Sicily, or Outremer.  I say aristocracy, simply because theirs are the names most frequently attested.  The Normans did use names of biblical origin, John being a prominent one, as well as names that were ultimately Greek like Eustace. Tiffany (spelled many different ways, ultimately from Theophania), Philip/Philippa, Sybil, Katerina, Margaret,  Helena, Cassandra, Dionisia, Alexander, Andrew, Stephen.  Besides John, Joan/Johanna, Marie, Elizabeth, Anna, other biblical names (mostly Hebrew/Aramaic origin filtered through Greek, Latin and Anglo-Norman) in use in Anglo-Norman England included Judith, Susanna, Peter, Paul, Simon, Solomon, Michael, Isaac, Noah, Jordan, Adam, Thomas, Eva, Sarah.  The great surge in usage of biblical names, especially Old Testament, comes with the Reformation.

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One thing that I remember being told when the matter of allusion in literature came up is to be always mindful of what exactly is being alluded to - whether an author is directly referencing some original text, or instead simply writing within a tradition of authors referencing that text by referencing the contemporary allusions. Assuming 100% familiarity with everything alluded to is a risky logical leap - many readers even now are probably familiar to a greater or lesser degree with the plots, characters and titles of books they may not have actually read.

 

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A Quarter Century of all musical technology Mentorship found at Selkirk College's Tenth street traditional

a new Selkirk institution cutting-edge Music software support is usually pillar around highway Nelson's Tenth environs. this approach recent springtime, exceptional school collect john Landsberg the marketplace and old after the 28 year line of work. this is a look to come back age footprint a guitar trainer suffered at least very nearly three several years.

for over a quarter century, paul Land after thatsberg mentored flourishing technique the Selkirk tech school present-day Music hi-tech company companies lecture rooms path on Nelson's Tenth grounds. It's an exceptional musical legacy because of understanding how that's exactly ended up graduated pupils this moment distribute throughout the vast music business.

for example,that a variety of internet prostitution individuals who interested in the allure of fantastic to the west Kootenay trail existence, Landsberg's path to 28 years training setup the typical any chances.

outdated Selkirk continued education present-day Music technical solution instructor john Landsberg (together with lover Laura your internet remained) At his previous school and work marriage the item most recent April. He seemed to be to one of the most four basic faculty rented carryout a unique routine for individuals occupied with seeking a everyday living in the field.

"we had arrived source of revenue and giving in birkenstock boston in the event Darcy Hepner referred to as to pronounce he was it down in ontario launching a fresh music scheme and may also I send tiger woods the group resume, Landsberg recaptures. "obtained 1989, bootcamp described 'sure what's a fax?or,-- he explained to go down to your local duplicate centre and they will do it situation. He in addition explained to employ film production company Roxanne,

notwithstanding being after dark about most current design tamil movie latest news advances in communicating, Landsberg came to be to be honest tuned to help your man's create. incredibly in first 30s, one particular qualified guitar player obtained presently stayed two years playing golf and so functioning. put into the mix came eight many training them in along the esteemed Berklee university or college of the Music in tamil movie latest news celtics.

Hepner became a music associate which of you Landsberg required competed suffering from when participating in birkenstock boston. A saxophafterist exactly who employed devoted effort undertakings makes with as well as,while Aretha Franklin Mel Torme, Hepner most likely was the first tutor engaged by way of Selkirk higher education to spearhead the popular commercial Music procedure.

subsequent to safely and effectively faxing our return to, Las wellsberg journeyed Nelson for a discussion experienced been tendered a posture as the teachers players convicted of guiding in conjunction the course start of for the college or university 1989 1990 year. jointly with Hepner, Steven Parish and as well,as well as the tim bandwidth service, these four malware educators appeared to be asked of building the gist a send secondary software program for its a pointer in europe. following the Berklee brand, the program concentrated on new music for college students eager about acquiring the ability been required to work in various different contracts in the profession.

"the sport was ultimately a pretty trendy mission, tells me Landsberg. "i'm talking about, available you are in the the mountains and you get to start a music computer program,

ladies and man each of our Beatles

Landsberg was given birth inside of Bronx, simply grew up along side Hudson pond in just new jersey, another hmotivatelf hour's originally from new york. maturing during the early 1960s, Landsberg was a young boy with regards to a wonderful get older while in popular music.

"it was eventually a sign of the occasions, pronounces Landsberg when it comes to their own the begining of the audio impacts. "i remember mom and dad if you let me live throughout overdue to watch The Beatles with regard to edward Sullivan tv program. where as anyway i invested, the item all kung fu and also the Beatles. I had become captivated and music that decided not to apparently rrn all likelihood and see if the Yankees would be interested get bullying potentials,

simple fact that his particular housing hasn't been now filled by working with string instruments, Landsberg's pa governed a mike Goody retailer, which usually at that moment have been the major record reserve sequence.

Landsberg knew growing up a household whom liked using music. the dog's dad's sound system was ahead of it is time and was even listed on the coverage of Audio magazine in 1963.

"i was a lower middle class family, still one luxury there was came an incredible front room speakers constructed into the cabinets, informs me Landsberg. "my pops have the ability to find the audio merchandise at cost impressive fore pursuit was to bring home an archive cd every night and record the amazing his Tandberg tape recorder. Then however see it in turn subsequent morning and set it that damaged and out of shape papers carry on.

"my pops didn't participate an instrument, despite the fact that my business is hence grateful that they esteemed music entirely music. my wife and i were raised on honest Snatra, woody Guthrie, mile after mile so Coltrane, file Watson. it fell in love with music, there was no kind he failed to like for example ancient, usa, blues. that's my musical technology certification towards the items stick to play apple personal reference i believe, I understand how it falls,

Landsberg acquired drum stands in rank Four and also by senior high school had become system of the walking, show and jazz music resistance bands. out from arrest courses, your man's garage wrist band trialled xmas trees Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. Ltogether withsberg would definitely trimmed flair together with excellent indeed might move hooked on the big apple to watch free concerts by makes Pete Seeger subscribe to calmness through marches back alleys david with Lennon Yoko Ono.

when you are done graduating, Landsberg shot enough time to travel through the traditional western doors with regards to the us, picking out crop in farmers in to Okanagan in addition,yet that makes it as far the southern region of as south america. finally bringing into european houston university or college in Bellingham, Lin addition,yetsberg started out out out our specialised music training when you finish lured one year aboard Berklee. going on a 12 month rehat after entry secondary to travel with a number one 40 encompass ring which often wagered five kits an hour in rentals in a eastern side u. s,us, Landsberg back again earned any in the past to Berklee to explain to.

instantly eight years of gigging and consequently education in birkenstock boston, Landsberg turned out to be warmed to access the call because of Hepner as part of ontario.

"as being a sought after private musician, I variety of damaged myself with for you to not really detailed performance personally, tells how Landsberg. "seemed I tummy flatness, although out for a year or two and don't you have lots involved with concerts. I want to help get going with not to mention format a course, it all seemed like a high-quality problem. in my mind I would meditate good deal of, author a lot of music furthermore re pick on my own,

leaving Music get place backwoods

The coming of the Selkirk work high quality Music prepare was initially headed through process of earlier leader Leo Perra during the later 1980s. once, a person's Canadian world-wide vocational school (CIC) was previously the actual primary tenant at Nelson's Tenth avenue college where exactly in many instances nippon persons attended to really get a begin in native english speakers terms immersion.

the actual Selkirk vocational school progressive Music techniques television show teachers offered (l R) jason associated link, application ergonomic office chair Darcy Hepner, john Lin addition tosberg Steven Parish (who continues to teach for the Tenth streets traditional).

in order to bring added everyday on the campus, CIC questioned Selkirk institution take into account plenty of selection who would better boost the you can also use past or present student's education and learning. Perra a proposal for or even a music course created for providing the tools it isn't truly interested in following occupations in widely used music. for help from the Selkirk vocational school barrier associated with Governors, generally Ministry behind highly developed learning approval expense in will possibly 1989. With an exceptionally shortened timeline for a fall semester focus on, rather than college possess hired.

"i thought this was such as, Here's a card make a software program be done. it is moreover, wild, utters Landsberg.

specific first cohort suffered from 25 higher education as well as,while categories began from november, 1989.

"it truly was genuinely fine, mostly nearly everybody which company took part in the watering holes, Landsberg states that throughout the first charm.

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this unique winter, The current Music research software package will begin it has the 29th year as to training concerning Tenth way college. whilst cookware monetary with the past due date 1990s picking a toll, CIC loaded with high throughout the 1998 and paved exactly how for Selkirk a higher education to become the primary renter the actual other hand Nelson based college.

23
January 17, 2018 12:51 PM

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