Let’s sidetrack for one moment and talk about the O’Hara sisters:
Katie Scarlett, called Scarlett
Susan Elinor, called Suellen
Caroline Irene, called Carreen
Oh my. Margaret Mitchell did an amazing job.
This post was inspired by Gone With the Wind’s well-named main character (I think Scarlett O’Hara is one of the best character names ever), but it’s not about her, and not even about a character created by Margaret Mitchell, but about a character created by Alexandra Ripley, who (as I understand it) had been commissioned by Margaret Mitchell’s estate to write a sequel to GWTW. Though her effort, Scarlett, wasn’t nearly as good as GWTW, I loved reading an end to Scarlett and Rhett’s story (ooh how I hated the way GWTW ended), and one of the fabulous details she imagined was another child, Scarlett and Rhett’s, a little girl, whom Scarlett named Katie Colum (after her cousin, an Irish priest named Colum, to whom she had grown close) (she was nicknamed Cat).
I just swooned over Katie Colum! I thought it was so clever, a feminine first name with a masculine middle. I was thinking about it this morning, because I know a little girl named Annie Ryan — that’s her given name, first and middle — and it totally works. It’s so charming! Ryan is a family last name for her, so she doesn’t technically have a boy’s name for a middle, even though of course Ryan is a boy’s first name.
I tried to think of other combinations that could have a similar feel as Katie Colum and Annie Ryan — names that are clearly girly even though the middle is masculine. What I came to was, the first name seems to need to be kind of *really* girly, not just feminine — not Katherine but Katie. Not Anne but Annie. And the middle name can’t be just any masculine name, I don’t think. I thought Gracie James could work. Maybe Rosie Ray. And I’ve long thought that starting with Mary makes any name do-able for a girl, but does it? Could a girl really pull off Mary Maverick? Or Mary Thomas? Actually Mary Charles sounds kind of intriguing, but even then I’d likely want to find an everyday nickname like maybe Macy, and not call her Mary Charles all the time. Certainly this brings to mind the religious names — Sr. Mary Edward or even Sr. Charles Francis — but that’s different than giving the name to a baby girl and intending to use the whole name as the everyday name. (I also know a little Elinor James, but she goes by Elinor/Ellie, so not exactly what I mean.)
I think this might be more common in the South? Where there’s a feminine first name but a masculine or lastname middle? But then I think the tradition is to go by the middle name all the time? Like Jane Prentiss who goes by Prentiss? Do any of you know any girls or women with names like this? Or can you think of other possibilities like Katie Colum and Annie Ryan?