I don’t remember when I first came across author Brunonia Barry, but I do remember being instantly curious about her name.
My first guess was botanical. Maybe “brunonia” was some sort of brown flower? (Do brown flowers even exist?) And I did find an Australian herb called brunonia. (Not brown-colored, but discovered by botanist Robert Brown.)
Turns out the Australian herb wasn’t the answer, but there was indeed a “brown” connection. Here’s how Brunonia Barry explains her name:
Brunonia is my middle name. I was named by my grandfather who was an overly enthusiastic alumnus of Brown University. Evidently Brown in Latin is Brunonia. He loved his alma mater so much that he named his summer house, his canoe, and his cat Brunonia. Then he decided that all of his grandchildren should take Brunonia as their middle names. […] My first name is really Sandra, but my pen name is Brunonia in honor of my grandfather.
So why did Brunonia Barry use her middle name as her pen name?
She chose to use her middle name as her professional name because of the strength it conveyed; her husband points out that there are several “Sandy Barry”s returned on a Google search, but only one “Brunonia Barry”!
What do you think of the name Brunonia?
P.S. Here’s an interesting NPR piece on how Brunonia self-published her book The Lace Reader.