A snippet of an old poem called “Ladies’ Names,” via British Baby Names:
And Phoebe for a midwife,
Joanna for a prude,
And Rachel for a gipsy-wench,
Are all extremely good
Why “Robert Galbraith”? J. K. Rowling’s answer (via Nancy Friedman):
I can only hope all the real Robert Galbraiths out there will be as forgiving as the real Harry Potters have been. I must say, I don’t think their plight is quite as embarrassing.
I chose Robert because it is one of my favourite men’s names, because Robert F Kennedy is my hero and because, mercifully, I hadn’t used it for any of the characters in the Potter series or ‘The Casual Vacancy’.
Galbraith came about for a slightly odd reason. When I was a child, I really wanted to be called ‘Ella Galbraith’, and I’ve no idea why. I don’t even know how I knew that the surname existed, because I can’t remember ever meeting anyone with it. Be that as it may, the name had a fascination for me. I actually considered calling myself L A Galbraith for the Strike series, but for fairly obvious reasons decided that initials were a bad idea.
Odder still, there was a well-known economist called J K Galbraith, something I only remembered by the time it was far too late. I was completely paranoid that people might take this as a clue and land at my real identity, but thankfully nobody was looking that deeply at the author’s name.
From a Rolling Stone article about Davy Jones (found while researching the Monkees):
Davy became so famous that another David Jones – a struggling singer-songwriter at the Monkees’ peak – had to change his last name to Bowie.
[He got “Bowie” from the Bowie knife, named after American frontiersman Jim Bowie.]
From an NPR article that asks, “How Long Can You Wait To Name A Baby?“
In the U.S., it’s a bit more complicated. Laws pertaining to the birth registration are up to the states, and they’re all over the map, so to speak. In Minnesota, for example, you have five days to register your wee one — and “if you do not name your child within five (5) days, the record will be filed as “baby boy” or “baby girl.” If “baby” just doesn’t seem a good fit, you’ve got 40 more days to change it, free of charge.
Ohio offers stumped parents a bit more wiggle room. You have 10 days to register in that state, but if you haven’t provided a given name at registration, “a supplemental report of such given name may be completed and presented within one year after the birth.”
A snippet of the poem “Menstruation at Forty,” from Anne Sexton’s book Live or Die (1966):
Will I give you my eyes or his?
Will you be the David or the Susan?
(Those two names I picked and listened for.)
From a University of California news release about an upcoming paper on baby names:
[The author] observed that the so-called “cultured” parents tended to start baby name trends, and then others adopted those names. When the names became popular, the cultured parents were the first to drop usage of those popular names, she said.
“If cultured people live in similar neighborhoods, attend similar cultural events, work in similar environments and overall interact more with each other than with those outside their group, then it is easier for a cultured parent to obtain information on the names that other cultured people have given their children compared to a not-so-cultured parent,” the paper said.
Two quotes from Thomas Kersen, associate professor of sociology at Jackson State University, in an article about baby names. 1st:
There are some unique qualities to Southern names that aren’t seen as often in other regions. “Using ‘ie’ and ‘y’ for ending boys’ names is one,” he said, “and using double names. Some parents have been known to use abbreviations as names for their children by using initials. That’s seen more in the South.”
“If I was wealthy and famous, not only would I have a gold-plated Hummer but I could name my kids all sorts of things,” Kersen said. “Celebrities make their own rules, and the children of the famous have money to help them in the future. For others, unusual names might be something to overcome. ‘Box of Books’ might be a hard sell on the job market.”
From the obituary of Art Ginsburg, founder of Art’s Deli in Los Angeles:
Using family recipes and an investment of $3,000, he opened Art’s Deli — “where every sandwich is a work of Art” — on June 22, 1957.
The New York Daily News talks to a “top naming expert” about the royal baby name:
“I definitely would not have selected the name George,” said Albert Mehrabian of the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA), the author of several books on names and other forms of “non-verbal communication.”
“I only wish, for the little boy’s sake, they could have picked a far more attractive name,” he said.
[How interesting that a guy named Albert is criticizing the name George…]