Monday, October 22, 2012

Romancing Miss Brontë

I'm on vacation! It's a beach vacation, which means I can sit and read a book. The book I chose to read is Romancing Miss Brontë by Juliet Gael, and of course it has inspired me to write about names.

Romancing Miss Brontë is historical fiction about Charlotte Brontë and her sisters, Emily and Anne. After doing some research on the Brontë family, I found that Emily is the only one listed that had a middle name, Jane. The three sisters also had two older sisters who died from tuberculosis, and their names were Maria and Elizabeth. A great sibset of sisters if I have ever heard one. Their brother's name was Patrick Branwell, which was their father's name and their mother's maiden name (they called him Branwell).

While the names of the siblings are alone perfectly blog-worthy, what really caught my eye was the nickname Charlotte's sisters called her: Tally. I am not sure if this is the author's creation, or if the sisters really called her Tally... if anyone knows I would love to hear! I had never heard that as a nickname for Charlotte. Charlie, Lottie, Lotta, Carly, Carla are the ones I can come up with, but never Tally. Tally, besides being a name in its own right, could be a nickname for Tallulah, Thalia, Talicia, or even Natalie.

That leads me to pronunciation. Are they pronouncing it like the word tally or like taw-lee, which would go with the sound of that last syllable in Charlotte? Like Lottie but switching the "t" and the "l"? I wonder, but the spelling makes it seem like they are saying it like the word tally. Again, not really sure how that came about, but definitely an interesting tidbit.

Besides the sisters, there are the males in Charlotte's life.  Her father, Patrick (who is Irish), and her two love interests, Arthur and George. Wonderfully common names for England in the 1800s. But another set of interesting names are the girls' pen names: Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. They are surnames that use their same initials: Charlotte was Currer (the name she used to publish Jane Eyre), Emily was Ellis (the name she used to publish Wuthering Heights), and Anne was Acton (the name she used to publish Agnes Grey). Currer is a variant of Currier, a tradesname from one who curries leather. Ellis is a name we are familiar with, as it is currently ranked #723 in the United States, and it is similar in root to the name Elijah. Acton means "oak tree settlement" and would be related to the name Oakley.

I love how books (and real life characters) make me delve into names that I would not have considered otherwise. If I were not on vacation, I might try to delve a little more, but I'll leave it to you for now. As a side question, I've often wondered what pen name I would create to publish fabulous novels. Do you know?


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