Tuesday 22 October 2013

Top Ten Tuesdays: 10 best character names in books (and 5 worst.)

Thanks to the ladies of The Broke and the Bookish  for coming up with this feature.

When it comes to writing memorable characters, the right name is crucial. Below are my favourite names to be found in literature through the ages. (Some authors excel at coming up with names for the inhabitants of their fictional worlds, and it is difficult to choose just one, so I have added some runners-up. It would be easy to have ten names from the Harry Potter series, for example.

10. Scarlett O'Hara - Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Not the most likeable of characters, perhaps, but her name is full of romance: huge dresses, windswept hair and a great American epic.
9. Gilbert Blythe - Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery. Just the right mixture of suave charm and best friend.
8. Caddy Jellyby - Bleak House by Charles Dickens. One of many brilliant names from Dickens (along with Ebeneezer Scrooge, Philip Pirrip, Nicholas Nickleby and the like.)
7. Effie Trinket - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. You just know she's going to be as fluffy and insubstantial as cotton candy!
6. Granny Weatherwax - The Discworld series from Terry Pratchett. You know that this is a woman who can't be havin' with any nonsense.(See also Nanny Ogg, Nobby Nobbs, Cheery Littlebottom, Havelock Vetinari... the list goes on... and on... and on... and on...)
5. Bilbo Baggins - The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. (Also: Eomer son of Eomund, Arwen Undomiel, many of the Elvish names. Of course, the Elvish language was created to sound as beautiful as possible.)
4. Lettie Hempstock - The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.
3. Draco Malfoy - the Harry Potter series. J. K. Rowling is second only to Dickens for her skill in naming. (a sample: Albus Dumbledore, Mundungus Fletcher, Severus Snape, Dolores Umbridge, Filius Flitwick, Nymphadora Tonks...)
2. Eustace Clarence Scrubb - The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. It is a most unfortunate name, but, as Lewis writes, "he almost deserved it." 
1. Tuppy Glossop - The Jeeves and Wooster series by P. G. Wodehouse. Doesn't it just roll off the tongue? Possibly the most fun you can have with combining two words. Tuppy. Glossop.

And the worst:

5. Tris - Divergent by Veronica Roth. Sorry, Divergent fans, but I just don't like the name. It seems to be lacking something, somehow. Feels unfinished.
4. Patch - Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick. Sounds like a puppy, not a bad-boy fallen angel.
3. Fitzwilliam. Mr Darcy's first name in Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen creates the most lusted-after fictional man in the history of the world, and saddles him with the first name Fitzwilliam. Most unfortunate.
2. Joffrey - A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. The brat didn't stand a chance, really, did he?
1. Renesmee - Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. Try as I may, I cannot pronounce this hybrid of her grandmothers' names Renee and Esmee as anything other than "Renny-smee." Which is just ridiculous. Ick.


  1. L.M. Montgomery, C.S. Lewis, J.K. Rowling - it's like an honor roll of authors with a great feeling for names! Love your list - thanks for sharing!

    1. Maybe their skill with naming is part of what made their characters (and stories) so successful.

  2. Wow! Lots of new to me series here in your top ten! It's funny that you put Renesmee in your worst list as I've been seeing it the best today! That name was quite laughable!

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    1. It is certainly a name that stands out... but I don't think it stands out in a good way.

  3. Renesmee is definitely the worst name ever. It made me feel quite unwell whenever I read it! Great list. It seems that sci-fi and fantasy and Dickens have the monopoly on amazing names :)

    1. There is not exactly a shortage of lovely names in the language - why would anyone feel the need to come up with Renny-Smee? *shudder*

  4. I share your feelings for Renesmee, at first I liked it because it was really unique but then the appeal just wore off.

    Roxy @ Story Envy

  5. Nice choices! I'm sorry for the name Joffrey, though. It definitely isn't a bad name, but the character is awful, for sure, so...

    1. It stood out for me as particularly egregious among all the names that were clearly just a couple of letters away from existing names.

  6. I thought the same about Patch. Hard to see him as a bad boy when you want to throw a ball for him, y'know? Also, I quite liked how in the film they took the piss out of the 'Renesmee' thing, it was quite a good 'insider giggle'... :)

    I adore J.K. Rowling's skill for names, and the Malfoys are a great example. Draco, Lucius and Narcissa... you were never going to think of them as good guys, were you?

    1. I confess I didn't watch past New Moon in the film series, though I like that they didn't take it too seriously as a name. What WAS Ms Meyer (and Bella) thinking?


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