Minerva has always been a name I’ve wanted to talk about, but it was only after browsing through Pottermore that I was finally pushed to start typing this post up.
For those who don’t know, Pottermore is a site that give you all kinds of background detail on various things from the Harry Potter ‘verse, and I stumbled upon a piece that mentions the reasoning behind Professor McGonagall’s first name, and the reaction to it:
The birth of the young couple’s first child, Minerva, proved both a joy and a crisis. Missing her family, and the magical community she had given up for love, Isobel insisted on naming her newborn daughter after her own grandmother, an immensely talented witch. The outlandish name raised eyebrows in the community in which she lived, and the Reverend Robert McGonagall found it difficult to explain his wife’s choice to his parishioners.
Point of fact, McGonagall has brothers with the perhaps less outlandish names of Malcolm and Robert.
It may come as no surprise that one of my favourite Harry Potter characters is McGonagall, because she just read very well and rather reminded me of a teacher from my schooling years. My school may not have had a Dumbledore, or a Snape for that matter, but we certainly had a McGonagall. And a Trelawney.
The other place I know a Minerva from is another book series I seem to mention every week: Artemis Fowl. It features boy genius Artemis, who in book 5 comes up against his devious female counterpart: Minerva Paradizo, who has a younger brother called Beau.
In Roman Mythology, Minerva was the Roman Goddess of wisdom and warfare. The name also possibly relates to the Latin mens, which means wise/intellect.
Despite the popularity of the character, Minerva does not rank in England&Wales, but here’s where things get interesting because she has previously ranked; she was at #4688 in 2010 with 4 girls given the name. Her peak was at #3422 in 2009, when she was given to a grand total of 6 girls. She first hit the ranks in 1999, the year the 3rd Harry Potter book hit the shelves ( fun fact: it was released on my sister’s 3rd birthday!)
Suffice to say however, she’s not all that popular a name. Indeed, she may still be considered an outlandish name these days, just as she was amongst the [fictional] early 20th century Scots of the village McGonagall hails from.
Keeping with the stats, what I really want to mention is the unsurprisingly fact that the highest ranking Min- name here in 2011 was Minnie, at #552. The other Min- names to rank were:
- Mina, #959
- Minahil, #1295
- Minal, #2025
- Minaal, #2432
- Mindy, #2636
- Minna, #3185
- Minnah, #3549
- Minha, #4049
- Min, #4764
- Minka, #4764
- Minsa, #4764
- Minni, #5785
But sadly no Minerva.