June 24, 2011

Meet Mrs. John Knightley

The New York Times reports: 
The nostalgia wave among girls’ names appears to be over. About two decades ago, an entire generation of girls’ names — those from the late 19th and early 20th centuries — started coming back into fashion: Grace and Emma, Julia and Anna, Ella and Hannah. Nothing like it had ever happened before. Individual names obviously came back into style. But an entire era’s never had. Now the nostalgia wave, which peaked in 2004, is ending. Emily fell 41 percent between 2004 and 2010, Sarah tumbled 49 percent and Hannah 54 percent. The lack of recent Jane Austen movies has probably played a role.
Well,  of the names listed above, only one (EMMA) belongs to a popular Jane Austen heroine (yes, there's a JULIA in Mansfield Park, but, seriously, who knows that?). There are no Graces and Annas and Ellas and Hannahs in Jane Austen's novels.

So what was the most popular name for girls in 2010? Did it represent the current trend towards short names, modern names, names beginning with an A? Not at all. The most popular name for girls in 2010 was ISABELLA -- which, as serious Jane Austen lovers know, is the give name of Mrs. John Knightley, otherwise known as EMMA Woodhouse's sister. #45: Charlotte, as in Mrs. William Collins, up from #289 just ten years ago.  #12: ELIZABETH, as in Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Jane Austen adaption or not, I'll predict that the name FITZWILLIAM is not going to make it on the top 100 list for boys any time soon.

(Other popular names in 2010 were Sophia, Olivia, Ava, Abigail, Madison, Chloe, and Mia)

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