The Appearance of Patsy Ann

The compound name Patsyann was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data, making its single appearance during the 1930s:

  • 1935: unlisted
  • 1934: unlisted
  • 1933: 7 baby girls named Patsyann [debut]
  • 1932: unlisted
  • 1931: unlisted

What put it there? I think the influence was the mystery tale Outrageous Fortune by British author Patricia Wentworth. The story was serialized in many U.S. newspapers in the autumn of 1933.

The mystery involved a shipwrecked man with amnesia. A woman named Nesta* claimed the man was her husband…but really she thought he might know the location of a certain priceless emerald necklace. In the meanwhile, the man’s cousin, a woman named Caroline, tracked him down and tried to help him recover his memory.

The protagonist was clearly Caroline, but Caroline’s roommate Patsy Ann “provide[d] an innocent diversion to the main story with her romantic life.”

In the UK the same year, Outrageous Fortune was published in book form, but under the title Seven Green Stones. Another difference between was Patsy Ann’s name: Pansy Ann in the UK. Perhaps the name had been changed from “Pansy” to “Patsy” for American readers because Patsy sounded trendier than Pansy in the U.S. at the time. The slang meaning of pansy, though relatively new in the ’30s, might have been a factor as well.

(If “Patsy Ann” sounds familiar to longtime readers, I blogged about Patsy Ann, the famous dog from Alaska, a couple of years ago.)

Sources: Patricia Wentworth – Wikipedia, Outrageous Fortune by Patricia Wentworth – Northern Reader, Pansy – Online Etymology Dictionary

*The name Nesta got a boost in 1934.

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