Jacqueline Wilson’s Naming Pursuits

Front Cover of Lily Alone by Jacqueline Wilson, from blogger.com

I’ve mentioned the children’s author Jacqueline Wilson a handful of times before, and specifically remember promising to post about some of the names she’s used in her books.

Right now in the UK, Jacqueline Wilson is the most borrowed author from children’s libraries with her writing career now spanning at least two decades and she’s also recently been made a Dame which shows just how influencial she is. I actually own a good majority of her books because I would receive one of them for Christmas and then receive a huge stack a few days later for my birthday, because everyone went and bought them from the sales.

All this success is accompanied by controversy as her books, whilst aimed at the tween market, are not about bunnies and leprechauns. One of her books taught me that rollies is slang for cigarettes, because she writes about real-life issues such as divorce, mental illness and so forth. So when she announced that children were growing up to fast, her remarks were not well taken by the media.

But now, for some names. The publication year/names of book/theme of book comes after in brackets, and generally speaking the characters are all tweenaged:

Arabella (2008, Cookie, see Beauty for themes)

– Either a variant of Annabel or from the Latin orabilis, which means invokable. In 2010 in England&Wales she ranked at #228 with 218 births. In the year the book came out, she ranked at #325, with 138 births.

Arthur, his surname is King (1996, Bad Girls, shoplifting/bullying)

– The meaning of the name is unknown, but has been linked to the welsh arth, meaning bear. In 2010 in England&Wales he ranked at #82 with 786 births. In the year the book came out, he ranked at #234, with 129 births.

Baxter, 6, twin of Bliss and brother of Lily and Pixie (2011, Lily Alone, home alone/child neglect)

Baxter is an occupational surname, originally given to bakers. Since the 2011 data isn’t available, we can only give the 2010 data, which is #1171 with 22 births.

Beauty (2008, Cookie, name-calling/separation)

– Quite simply from the English word. The name didn’t rank in 2008, but in 2010 she came in at #4688 with 4 births.

Bliss, 6, sister of Lily and Pixie and twin of Baxter (2011, Lily Alone, home alone/child neglect)

– Another name inspired by an English word, we recently covered another sibset which included a Bliss. In 2010 the name ranked at #3156 with 7 births.

Clarissa (2008, My Sister Jodie, see Pearl for themes)

– An elaboration of the name Clara, from the Latin word clarus, meaning light. In 2008 she ranked at #995 with 31 births, compared with her 2010 ranking of #1150 with 28 births.

Claudia, nanny of Sweetie, Ace and Sunset (2010, Little Darlings, see Sunset for themes)

– From the latin claudus, which means crippled or lame. In 2010, the year the book was published, she ranked at #240, with 207 births

Crystal, 5, twin sister of Zen (1992, The Suitcase Kid, divorce)

– From the English word for a precious stone. The 1992 data isn’t available to me, but in 2010 she ranked at #276 with 178 births.

Dolphin, 11, half-sister of Star and child of Marigold (1999, The Illustrated Mum, tattooing/broken family)

– Again, from the English word for a creature you can find in the sea. Whilst Dolphin does not rank in 1999, the name Delphine does at #2444 with 6 births. In 2010, we have the same problem, with Delphine now ranking at #2104 with 12 births with Dolphin not ranking.

Elsa, 11, half-sister of Pippa and Hank (1994, The Bed and Breakfast Star, unemployment/homelessness)

Elsa is another short form of Elisabeth which means my God is my oath. Whilst I only have the Top 100 for 1994, I do have the full list for 1996 which shows Elsa at #661 with 36 births. In 2010, she ranks at #224 with 223 births.

Garnet, twin of Ruby (1995, Double Act, moving home)

– The name of a precious red stone. Again, I don’t have the 1995 list, but in 1996 she doesn’t rank, nor does she in 2010.

Gideon, foster brother of Hetty (2009, Hetty Feather, see Hetty for themes)

– This names comes from Hebrew and means feller. In 2009, Gideon ranked at #748, with 39 births compared with his 2010 ranking of #758 with 39 births. So, he dropped 10 places, but the same amount of Gideons were born.

Harley, male (2008, My Sister Jodie, see Pearl for themes)

– From the surname, which means hare clearing. As a male name, he ranked at #63 in 2008 with 1135 births compared with his 2010 ranking of #57 with 1304 births.

Harriet, this name appears twice on two different characters (2008, My Sister Jodie, see Pearl for themes) (2009, Hetty Feather, see Hetty for themes)

– The name Harriet is the female form of Harry, which itself comes as a nickname of Henry, meaning home ruler. The rankings for Harriet are as such:

2008: #82 with 749 births

2009: #89 with 690 births

2010: #86 with 702 births

Hetty, fostered child, revealed to be the child of Ida at the end (2009, Hetty Feather, abandoned children/fostering/victorian life)

– The name Hetty is usually a short form of Henrietta, the female form of Henry, which means home ruler. In 2009, the names ranked at #1596 with 17 born compared with 2010, when the name was at #1429 with 21 born. 

Ida, cook and mother of Hetty (2009, Hetty Feather, see Hetty for themes)

– From the Germanic element id, meaning work/labour. In 2009, the name Ida ranked at #726 with 50 births compared with 2010, when she was at #878 with 40 births.

Jayni, sister of Kenny who changes her name to Lola Rose. (2003, Lola Rose, domestic abuse/cancer)

– This character was given a name that was a smoosh of her parents: Jay and Nikki. In 2010 the name Janey ranked at #2843 with 8 born compared with 2003, whe she was at #1722 with 11 births.

Jodie, 14ish, sister of Pearl and May (2008, My Sister Jodie, see Pearl for themes)

– Could be a variant of Judy, which comes from Judith, meaning woman from Judea. In 2008, she ranked at #419 with 100 births, and in 2010 she ranked at #447 with 95 births.

Jude, 14, sister of Martine, Rochelle, Dixie and Sundance (2004, The Diamond Girls, moving home/depression/pregnancy/abuse/broken family)

– A variant of Judas, which came from Jonah and means praised. The character was female, so we’re going to give the female rankings of the name, which were:

2004: #1209, 19 births

2010: #2392, 10 births

Juniper, technically Mr. Juniper (2010, Little Darlings, see Sunset for themes)

– From the botanical English word. The character was male, but the name doesn’t rank for males in 2010, but for the females the name came in at #3533 with 6 births. Thinking about it, Juniper would made a rad name for boys.

Kendall, brother of Jayni/Lola Rose. Born a Kenny but changes his name to Kendall (2003, Lola Rose, domestic abuse/cancer)

– From the name of the city, which means valley of the River Kent. This character was male, so the male rankings for the name in 2010 is #4678 with 3 births, and it didn’t actually rank in 2003 as a male name. In 2010, there were 11 female Kendalls born, putting the name at #2235.

Loretta, teen, sister of William ‘Willie’, Patsy and Tamara ‘Tammy’ and child of Rita (2002, Secrets, domestic abus/affairs/alcoholism)

– An elaboration of the name Laura, which means laurel. In 2002, the name came in at #1928 with 9 births with it rising to #1472 with 20 births in 2010.

Magda, 13/14, friend of Eleanor ‘Ellie’ and Nadine (1997, Girls in Love, sex/broken relationships)

– The name ultimately comes from Miss. Mary Magdalene, a character in the New Testament. Her surname means of Magdala, and she was from just there. The village was situated on the sea of Galilee, and it’s name means tower in Hebrew. In 2010 the name ranked at #4012 with 5 born, compared with 1997 when it ranked at a higher #3174, but with one less born.

Pearl, 10, sister of Jodie and May (2008, My Sister Jodie, death of a sibling/moving school/bullying)

– From the English word for a once highly-prized precious stone. In 2010 there were 105 of them born, putting the name at #416, whereas in 2008 the name ranked at #440 with 96 born.

Peg, foster mother of Hetty (2009, Hetty Feather, see Hetty for themes)

– One of the many short forms of Margaret, which means pearl. Whilst Peg ranks in neither year her slightly longer form of Peggy does, at:

2009: #1411 with 20 births

2010: #1332 with 23 births

Pippa, 7, sister of Hank, half-sister of Elsa (1994, The Bed and Breakfast Star, unemployment/homelessness)

– The short form of Philippa, made famous by the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister. The name is the female form of Philip, which means friend of horses. I’ve actually managed to fish the table of the last 8 years of her popularity from my archives:

  2003 2004 2005 2006
Rank 607 514 438 424
Births 48 64 84 97
  2007 2008 2009 2010
Rank 404 385 351 365
Births 102 114 125 124

Pippa actually overtook Philippa as the more popular form of the name in 2009.

Pixie, 3, sister of Lily, Bliss and Baxter (2011, Lily Alone, home alone/child neglect)

– Another English word turned name and made famous by Bob Geldof. The name ranks higher than you might think, at #485 with 43 births.

Polly, friend of Hetty’s who is adopted as Lucy (2009, Hetty Feather, see Hetty for themes)

– A medieval variant of Molly, who comes from the name of the Virgin Mother: Mary. It’s subject to debate as to the origins of Mary, so she could come from the same Hebrew sources as Mara and mean bitter. She could also have her origins in Egyptian, and thus mean beloved. In 2009 the name ranked at #227 with 213 born compared with 2010 when 237 were born, putting the name at #213.

Prudence, 16ish, sister of Grace and known as Prue (2005, Love Lessons, family illness/new school/pupil-teacher affair)

– A virtue name which ranked at #2084 in 2005 with 10 born, compared with 2010 when the name came in at #1472 with 20 born.

Ruby, twin of Garnet (1995, Double Act, moving home)

– From the name of the precious red stone. If we were to separate the English and Welsh data, then Ruby would come top in Wales and at #7 in England. In 1996 the name ranked at #103 with 458 born.

Sadie, 9 (1993, The Mum Minder, child-carer)

– A diminuative of Sarah, which means princess. In 2010, the name ranked at #179 with 293 born.

Sakura (2008, My Sister Jodie, see Pearl for themes)

– Probably one of my favourite Japanese names, not just because I used to watch Card Captor Sakura like there was no tomorrow, which means cherry blossom. In 2008 the name ranked at #2292 with 10 born, whilst in 2010 there were 13 born, boosting the name up to a ranking of #1993.

Saul, foster brother of Hetty (2009, Hetty Feather, see Hetty for themes)

– From Hebrew origins meaning prayed for. In 2009 the name ranked at #530 with 65 born, that number increasing slightly to #527 with 66 births in 2010.

Sheba (2008, My Sister Jodie, see Pearl for themes)

– Another name of Hebrew origins, which means oath. The name didn’t rank in 2008, but in 2010 it ranked at #4012 with 5 births.

Sissy, street child and sister of Lil (2009, Hetty Feather, see Hetty for themes)

– Usually a short form of either Cecelia, Priscilla or Frances, which mean blind, frenchman and ancient, respectively. Whilst the name doesn’t rank in 2009, it does in 2010, at #5707 with 3 births.

Star, 16, half-sister of Dolphin and child of Marigold (1999, The Illustrated Mum, tattooing/broken family)

– From the English word for the things which sparkle in the sky at night, provided you don’t live in a light polluted area. In 1999 the name ranked at #952 with 22 born, compared with 2010, when the name ranked at #664 with 56 born.

Sundance, newborn sister of Martine, Jude, Rochelle and Dixie whom is believed to be a boy for the majority of the book (2004, The Diamond Girls, see Jude for themes)

– From the Native American Sun Dance ceremony, and originally chosen by the mother in the book for her baby boy, so we looked at both the male and female ranks for both, and it doesn’t rank for either in either year (2004/2010).

Sunset, 10, sister of Ace and Sweetie and half-sister of Destiny. Her Dad is a rockstar (2010, Little Darlings, fame/celebrity lifestyle)

– From the English word for when the Sun goes down at the end of the day. The name Sunset doesn’t rank but Sunny does, at #2235 with 11 born.

Sweetie, youngest sister of Ace, Sweetie and Destiny and the child of a rockstar (2010, Little Darlings, see Sunset for themes)

– From a cutesy term of affection used by some English-speaking parents. The name does not rank in 2010.

Sylvie (2007, Kiss, homosexuality/bullying)

– The French form of the name Sylvia, which comes from the Latin silva, meaning forest. In 2010 the name ranked at #485 with 83 births, whilst in 2007 the name ranked at #666 with 52 births.

Treasure, 14, friend of India (2002, Secrets, domestic abuse/affairs/alcoholism)

– From the English word. Whilst the name did not rank in 2002, in 2010 she ranked at #2235 with 11 born.

Verity, 10, has a cat named Mabel (2001, The Cat Mummy, death of a family pet)

– From Latin origins and meaning truth. In the year the book was published the name ranked at #337 with 104 births, in the decade that lapsed not much has changed as she ranks at #334 with 140 births in 2010.

Zen, 5, twin brother of Crystal (1992, The Suitcase Kid, divorce)

– A name which means meditation and thus associated with calming feelings. In 2010 the name ranked at #2400 with 8 born.

Zephaniah, known as Zeph (2008, My Sister Jodie, see Pearl for themes)

– From Hebrew origins and meaning Yahweh has hidden. As an aside, I’ve seen a couple of young Zeph’s pop up recently, and in 2008 there were 9 Zephaniahs born, putting the name at #2097. In 2010, that figure had risen to 17 born, with a higher ranking of #1407.

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Categories: Boy Names, Girl Names | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Jacqueline Wilson’s Naming Pursuits

  1. Awkward Turtle

    I was looking forward to this post! I find Jacqueline Wilson’s choices really interesting. And her books too, obviously.

    Like

  2. She picks some great names and great sibsets!

    One of her name themes seems to be children changing their names as a form of changing their identity.

    Another seems to be ironic observation in her stories that children given “valuable” or “special” names like Treasure, Zen or Beauty aren’t necessarily treated as valuable or special by their parents.

    Like

  3. I’ll have: Marigold, Garnet, Mabel, Sissy, Sakura, Elsa, Claudia, Bliss, and Arthur as my nine-child sib set! I could use any of these and be happy.

    Like

  4. Pingback: Sunday Summary: 9/4/11 | Appellation Mountain

  5. Pingback: Names of the Week: Horatio and Jacqui « Mer de Noms

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