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In celebration of the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens, here is Part II of the best of the names from Dickens’s works for babies… and cats.

  • Lupin — believe it or not, J.K. wasn’t the first to use this flower name as a surname; Mrs Lupin features in Martin Chuzzlewit.
  • Magwitch — I’d love to name a cat Magwitch after Abel Magwitch in Great Expectations!
  • Magnus — Peter Magnus is another of Pickwick Papers‘s characters. As a first name, Magnus (simply Latin for “great”) has become regarded as particularly characteristic of the Shetlands. It makes the perfect choice for lovers of Felix and Rufus wanting something that is still off the radar…
  • Malta — named after the island, Malta Bagnet appears in Bleak House.
  • Manette — the surname of Dr. Alexandre and Lucie in A Tale of Two Cities.
  • Marley — now most associated with Bob, never forget the other Marley — the ghost of Jacob Marley with his rattling chains in A Christmas Carol… The surname derives from the Old English mearth “pine marten” or “weasel,” or mǣre “boundary” + lēah “wood,” “woodland clearing,” “glade,” “pasture,” and “meadow.”
  • Maylie — a cheerful surname borne by Mrs Maylie and her children Harry and Rose in Oliver Twist.
  • Merry — not uncommingly used as a nickname for Mercy, as it is in Martin Chuzzlewit for Merry Pecksniff.
  • Micawber — one of the most likeable of all Dickens’s characters is the perennially optimistic Mr Wilkins Micawber in David Copperfield. Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones has a guitar called Micawber.
  • Mulberry — a great name for a not particularly savory character — Sir Mulberry Hawk in Nicholas Nickleby.
  • Nancy — undoubtedly one of Dickens’s best-loved characters, Oliver Twist‘s Nancy is perhaps the best embodiement, in so many ways, of what Dickens’s work was all about. Like Betsy, it’s a Victorian charmer of a name, still falling in America, but reviving in the UK (the oldest daughter of British Prime Minister David Cameron is called Nancy).
  • Nell — another tragic Dickensian character is “Little Nell” — a.ka. Nelly Trent — of  The Old Curiosity Shop. Traditionally, the pet-name for Eleanor, it is also used for Ellen and Helen, and very much falls in that same category as Nancy and Betsy.
  • Nemo — Jules Verne was not the first to have a Captain Nemo — Dickens was; he used Nemo as the pseudonym of Captain James Hawood in Bleak House.
  • Nickleby — surname of the hero of eponymous her of Nicholas Nickleby.
  • Ninetta — the real name of “The Infant Phenomenon” in Nicholas Nickleby.
  • Oliver — the eponymous hero of Oliver Twist. Number One in England and Wales in 2010, and rising rapidly in the US. Usually shortened to Olly or Ollie, there’s always Ol too, and how about the medieval Noll or snappy, modern Liv instead? I’ve even seen Levi suggested…
  • Peggotty — Clara Peggotty, always known as “Peggotty,”  is David’s kind and loving nurse maid in David Copperfield.
  • Pet — the name by which Minnie Meagles is known in Little Dorrit.
  • Phenomenon – “The Infant Phenomenon” is how the Crummles refer to their beloved daughter Ninetta in Nicholas Nickleby. Offers interesting nicknames, such as Phen, Phenie, Nomi, Nomie, Menon, Mena and Minnie.
  • Pip — obliged to legally change his name to Pip, Philip “Pip” Pirrip is the hero of Great Expectations.
  • Pleasant — first used by the Puritans, Dickens used Pleasant  for the character of Pleasant Riderhood in Our Mutual Friend.
  • Plummer — we have Tyler and Mason, so why not Plummer? Caleb Plummer appears in The Cricket in the Hearth.
  • Pumblechook – definitely one for the cats, but too great a creation to leave out. A pompous and somewhat ridiculous character in Great Expectations.
  • Quebec — another of the Bagnet children in Bleak House.
  • Quinion — Mr Quinion, good name, though not a particularly nice character, in David Copperfield.
  • Rogue — Rogue has the halmark of a modern “word name”, but Dickens used it in Our Mutual Friend for Rogue Riderhood. He lives up to his name!
  • Rosa — the charmingly named Rosa Bud features in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Why doesn’t America like the lovely Rosa? She’s 238th in the UK, and rising, but 564th in America — and falling…
  • Seth — another of the Pecksniffs in Martin Chuzzlewit, Seth has been threatining to go stellar for a while, but peaked in 200o in the US in 63rd place and has since slipped back to 165th. Curious, as it ticks the boxes — why Ethan and Noah, but not Seth? The same’s not true in Britain, where it wouldn’t surprise me if Seth enters the top 100 this year.
  • Sophronia — an unusual option for lovers of Sophie and Sophia looking for that something slightly different. Sophronia Lammle is another of Our Mutual Friend‘s characters. From the Greek sôphrôn “sagacious,” “prudent,” and “of sound mind.”
  • Sophy — Although the French-spelling Sophie with an “ie” is the most popular vernacular form of Sophia in Britain at the moment, in the past, Sophy with a “y” was more normal. David Copperfield. Sophy Crewler features in David Copperfield.
  • Sweedlepipe — a particularly good cat name, as Paul “Poll” Sweedlepipe in Martin Chuzzlewit is a bird-fancier!
  • Sydney — Sydney Carton of A Tale of Two Cities is one of my personal favorite characters — I’ve mentioned before my preference for the flawed hero, and Sydney epitomises flawed hero so well. It is he who utters those immortal lines: “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” Nowadays, Sidney is the preferred spelling.
  • Tattycoram — the name given to Harriet Beadle by the Meagles when she becomes their servant in Little Dorrit. Tatty is a pet-form of Harriet (via Hattie) and Coram was added because it was the name of the founder of the foundling hospital where Harriet spent the first years of her life. Would make a lovely name for a cat.
  • Tite — Tite Barnacle appears in Little Dorrit.
  • Turveydrop — Prince Turveydrop is a dancing master in Bleak House. Cat.
  • Uriah — Like Ebenezer, Uriah may well have suffered because of a Dickensian character. In Uriah’s case it is the odious, unctious Uriah Heep in David Copperfield. I have seen Uriah mentioned positively in recent times, and he made it to 549th place in America in 2010, but can her really shake Heep off? And his disconcerting similarity to the word urine?
  • Wemmick — John Wemmick is a kind man in Great Expectations, known for caring really well for his elderly father.
  • Wopsle — a minor character in Great Expectations, Wopsle would work well for cat — though perhaps reserve it for an indoor one (unless you fancy the idea of standing on the doorstep yelling “Wopsle, Whiskas!”)
  • Zephyr — “The Zephyr” is the pseudonym of Mr Minvins, a character in Pickwick Papers.

Happy Birthday, Charles!

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