Wednesday, 11 June 2014


"They say his name is Henry. A proof of how unequally the gifts of Fortune are bestowed — I have seen many a John & Thomas much more agreeable. " (from J. Austen,  Letters)

What's in a name? According to William Shakespeare - or better his Juliet -  not so much, "That which we call a rose. by any other name would smell as sweet". But Maggie Lane thinks otherwise and has researched the importance given to names by Jane Austen, especially in her mature work. That means Ms Lane focuses her analysis on the major six novels: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. 
In the six sections of the book, the author proposes interesting reflections, comparisons and analysis related to the use of names in history, in Jane Austen's time and in Jane Austen's most famous novels: A Brief History of Names, Naming Patterns and Practices, The Use of Christian Names, Jane Austen's Feeling For Names, Names in the Novels of Jane Austen: An Alphabetical Index.
Take your chances to win 1 of the 5 ebook copies I was kindly granted  to give away among you readers. It's a precious addition to any Austenite's collection! Check out the giveaway contest in the rafflecopter form below this post.

Book blurb

For Jane Austen, Edmund was a name of heroism and chivalry, Maria signified heartlessness and Richard was a joke. She had a weakness for Emma and a passion for Frederick which endured from her earliest years until she bestowed it on her last, and most romantic, hero. Unlike most novelists of her period, in naming her characters Jane Austen confined herself to the names found in everyday life, choosing them to fit not only their personalities but their place in society. 

While the classic English names are her staple, she also drew on Old Testament names for her low-born characters and eighteenth-century creations for the would-be fashionable. In this study of a hitherto neglected area of the novelist's art, Maggie Lane looks at the history of English nomenclature up to Jane Austen's time and at the naming patterns and practices current in her society, including who was entitled to use the Christian name of whom. A section on Jane Austen's own taste in names is followed by an alphabetical listing of all the Christian names used in her mature fiction, with their history, social status and associations. 

"I cannot yet satisfy Fanny as to Mrs Foote’s baby’s name, and I must not encourage her to expect a good one, as Captain Foote is a professed adversary of all but the plainest; he likes only Mary, Elizabeth, Anne etc. " J. Austen, Letters 

About the author

Maggie Lane is the author of many books including "Jane Austen's Family", "Jane Austen's England", "Jane Austen and Food", "Jane Austen's World" and "A Charming Place: Bath in the Life and Novels of Jane Austen".

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jane Austen and Names at


dstoutholcomb said...

Lizzie, Emma, Mr. Darcy!, etc...

Lúthien84 said...

Frederick, Elizabeth, Jane, Anne, Fitzwilliam and Eleanor are my favourite names.

Adi said...

This is actually something I've always wondered about, so I'd love to read the book.
I like the names Elizabeth and Eleanor.

Vesper Meikle said...

Fitzwilliam (Colonel) I like, Elizabeth is a family name

cyn209 said...

I must admit, certain names just rate higher for me, while others, just seem to turn me off........

thank you for the giveaway!!

Anji said...

I find the history of names rather fascinating. Sometimes, I've discovered, a name we thought was a modern invention actually goes back many years and has fallen out of use until recently. Others, which we thought old, turn out to be inventions of authors in the past couple of hundred years.

This book sounds like an interesting read with it's comments on customs of Jane Austen's time as well as the names.