The Emergence of Gevan

area of suspicion, gevan dean, 1950s, baby name

The baby name Gevan was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data in 1952:

  • 1954: unlisted
  • 1953: unlisted
  • 1952: 12 baby boys named Gevan
  • 1951: unlisted
  • 1950: unlisted

But it wasn’t just any old one-hit wonder — it was the top one-hit wonder of the year. And that’s not all — it also tied for top boy-name debut name of the year.

The influence behind Gevan eluded me for a long time…mainly because I wasn’t looking for it. The name Kevin was very trendy in the 1950s, so I initially wrote off Gevan as variant of fast-rising Kevin.

When I finally decided to take a second look at Gevan, though, I did indeed find a distinct explanation.

It was a story called “My Brother’s Widow,” published serially in Collier’s weekly magazine over five consecutive issues from mid-March to mid-April, 1952.

The story’s main character was Gevan “Gev” Dean. After his brother Ken was murdered, Gev returned to his hometown to mind the lucrative family business, Dean Products, where there was an internal power struggle going on. He also had to deal with Ken’s widow, Niki — who happened to be his former girlfriend:

gevan, 1952

After “My Brother’s Widow” came out in Collier’s, author John D. MacDonald beefed it up and released it as a standalone book with a new title, Area of Suspicion, in early 1954.

Further research reveals that at least two of the baby Gevans born in 1952 had the middle name Dean. And other Gevan Deans were born in later years/decades, no doubt to parents who had picked up the book.

Do you like the name Gevan? How would you pronounce it?

Sources: Area of Suspicion – The Trap of Solid Gold, John D. MacDonald – Wikipedia

P.S. John D. MacDonald’s 1957 novel The Executioners was turned into the 1962 movie Cape Fear.

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