Twilight Reimagined

For a long long time, on all the name boards and name discussions I witnessed/participated in, the Twilight names — by which I mean specifically Edward, Bella, Rosalie, Jasper, Emmett, and Esme — were totally taboo. (I’m not including Jacob, because it was already monster hit on its own merits; other names like Victoria, James, and Sam were already in enough use that the Twilight association is not the overriding one; and Carlisle hasn’t ever been in the top 1000.)

The actual stats show a somewhat different story — Edward was already on a downhill spiral before the first book was released in 2005, and continued so until a small bump right around when the first movie came out in 2010, and then declined again; Bella was already on an upward trajectory but started moving up faster with the release of the books and even more so with the movies.

Rosalie wasn’t even in the top 1000 until the year the buzz for the first movie began, and has made the most dramatic climb; Jasper has been in the 500s or so since at least 2000 but jumped up a bit in conjunction with the movies; Esme made the top 1000 for the first time the year the first movie came out but stayed in the 900s every year since then until 2014 when it moved to #816.

The books and movies definitely helped make most of the these name more accessible to the general population, but that same association tainted the names for parents whose naming sensibilities are, I think, more closely aligned with ours here than not. For myself and many of you, our children’s names are chosen with heavy consideration given to our faith as realized through its holy people and places, its teachings, and its history. For many of the other people I encountered who crossed Edward, Bella, Rosalie, Jasper, Emmett, and Esme off their lists because of Twilight, if their children’s names weren’t chosen with a Catholic sensibility, then it was with a literary or artistic or offbeat or funky sensibility very informed by education or even just plain contrariness. The fact that names like those of the characters were even on their lists to begin with attests to that.

For our purposes, I have found Twilight to be quite a bother. Edward, to me, is St. Edward the Confessor! An amazing saint, a wonderful model and patron for any boy. Rosalie is a Rose- name, one of the many beautiful ways to honor Mother Mary or St. Rosalia (which Rosalie is a variant of). Jasper is one of the Three Wise Men, as I’ve mentioned so many times before. Emmett, Esme, and Bella don’t feel as faith-y, but they could be — there’s a St. Emma (Emmett is a male diminutive of Emma); Esme means “beloved,” which could easily fit into a beautiful name combo having to do with the faith; Bella on its own means “beautiful,” which could be treated the same way as Esme, or it can be a nickname or form of Isabella on its own or as a form of Elizabeth, both of which have their own very saintly connections. I actually love all those names, they are very much my taste.

But for years, to tell anyone you might like the name Rosalie, for example, seemed to automatically mark you as a Twihard — it wouldn’t matter how many times you protested, “No! It’s for Mother Mary! It’s for St. Rosalia!” people would just think vampire.

Finally, finally!, it seems, from what I can tell, that the Twilight names are becoming more acceptable. The association seems to be fading. And then I read Stephenie Meyer Announces New Gender-Swapped ‘Twilight’ Book (posted last week):

Stephenie Meyer went on Good Morning America on Tuesday to announce she’s releasing a new Twilight book in honor of the 10th anniversary of the original novel. It’s called Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined, and it swaps the genders of almost every character in the book.

Bella is now a human named Beau and Edward is a vampire named Edythe. In a foreword to the story, the author explained that there are slight personality changes to the characters. Beau is “more OCD” and “not as angry,” but Meyer said the love story is the same. The book is already available in hardcover and e-book, starting Tuesday.”


Because Stephenie Meyer has really really good taste in names, so you know whatever she chooses is going to be delectable (at least to my taste). Which means there’s the possibility of a whole new bunch of otherwise awesome names that will have the Twilight taint. In From Bella, Edward and Jacob to Beau, Edythe and Julie: The Full List of Name Changes in New ‘Twilight’ Book, the full list is given (the article itself is pretty interesting from a namiac perspective):

Main characters, most susceptible to being heavily associated with Twilight
Bella (short for Isabella) to Beau (short for Beaufort)
Edward to Edythe
Jacob (or Jake) to Julie (or Jules)
Dr. Carlisle to Dr. Carine
Esme to Earnest
Alice to Archie
Emmett to Eleanor
Rosalie to Royal
Jasper to Jessamine

More minor characters, probably no real risk here
Billy to Bonnie
Jessica to Jeremy
Angela to Allen
Mike to McKayla
Tyler (b) to Taylor (g)
Lauren to Logan
Eric to Erica
Rachel and Rebecca to Adam and Aaron
Ben to Becca
Connor to Colleen
Lee to Leann
Samantha to Sean
Sam to Samantha (also known as Sam)

The bad guys — not main characters, but not minor either
James to Joss
Victoria to Victor
Laurent to Lauren

So I’m most disappointed by Beau (I have a soft spot for it), Edythe (though the spelling is so different from our St. Edith that I’m hoping, since it will only be a book and not a movie, it won’t even seem like the same name), Carine (which was our girl middle name for a while), Eleanor (but it’s so popular already it’ll probably be fine), and Jessamine (a personal fave). I love the Juli- names, but I don’t think Julie will affect the Julia/Julian(n)(e)(a)/Juliet(te) names as much, since it’s been on its way down for a long time, and is currently much less popular than all the other forms. And Victor has been on my list for a long time, and is more distinctive/less traditionally popular than Victoria, so I’m just hoping, as my husband pointed out, that there’s very little chance that this book will take off the way the others did, especially since (as noted) there won’t be any sequels or movies (and indeed the SSA stats showed the bumps in popularity were more associated with the movies than the books).

What do all think? Do you think there’s any risk of a Twilight Reimagined backlash against any of these names? Would it matter to you if there was? Did it matter to you before, with the original books and movies?


30 thoughts on “Twilight Reimagined

  1. Im in a similar predicament, but with a different franchise.

    I’m due with a baby right around the beginning of Easter, and my husband wants so very badly to name the baby Anastasia if it’s a girl born during the Octave. However, I would be *mortified* if anyone thought I’d had a “greybie.” 50 Shades of Gray has just ruined that wonderfully Christian name for me.

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  2. This new book might still make a lot of money, but the broader cultural relevance of Twilight has faded. That may not be the case for Harry Potter, but the Twilight series was more of a craze than a beloved classic. Hence I’m not really worried about the name associations. For what it’s worth, I don’t believe “Twilight babies” will be haunted by the association for very long, as all the names the author chose were solid and stand well on their own. With the definite exception of Renesmee! It’s interesting that you bring up the vampire vs. faith association. Twilight was tacitly marketed as Christian-friendly, and that had a definite positive impact on its popularity.

    As for Anastasia, I can see why a parent outside of countries where it is a top 10-20 name might be wary of the 50 Shades connection right now. The good news is that Anastasia is such a common, classic name in so many cultures, that there’s an abundant wealth of great nicknames for it. Where I’m from, these include Tessie/Tessa (I love Tess in English!), Natassa/Natasia, Nasia/Tasia/Tatia, and Sia. You could use a diminutive for your little girl and gradually transition to her full name as she grows older, by which time the 50 Shades thing, also a craze rather than a classic, will be well behind us.

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  3. I am hoping people just don’t take to the idea of this silly idea to rewrite a book. It’s like a lame sequel. (Um… Sorry Twilight fans? Maybe I am just clueless to the appeal? But surely, there is a good reason Jane Auston didn’t release P&P the serial with swapped genders, right?!).

    That said, I’ve mentioned here before the very Twilight-heavy name history of my family (Edward and Rosalie behind the two biggies. And Great Aunt Rosalie was half of the identical twin pair preceding me and my twin sister. I have wanted to use her name FOREVER). I have never read Twilight, but have been thoroughly annoyed at its infringement on my honor names!! 🙂 (Although I maintain that Edward is far too classic to “belong” to Twilifht even at the height of popularity). So I hope this new version just, well, doesn’t quite have the same impact. It also makes me grumpy that, while I think you are probably right about Julie/Jules, my daughter has a “Juli” name and “Jules” is the nickname we default to. Grrrr.

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  4. As a person of the “Twilight Generation” (I was 12 when the first movie came out, I am exactly what the target audience was), nobody thinks along the lines of Twilight anymore. Even as someone who was a fan, Rosalie is just Rosalie, Edward is just Edward ect. One of my closest friends, who is/was a huge fan of the series, wants to use Rosalie. And I know my other friend and I didn’t make the Twilight connection for days, because she was like “I want to use Rosalie for Mother Mary.” It just doesn’t really cross people’s minds anymore.

    And I know most fans, at least the ones I know and my friends, aren’t reading this new Twilight Reimagined thing, because we think it’s stilly. So I don’t think it will be a big deal and all will fade away.

    I feel like the reason that all the names seemed SO Twilight was because lots of people had never heard of Rosalie or Esme or some of the other names before, but now because they’ve been ingrained in our collective psyche, they don’t seem to be only associated with the books/movies.

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  5. Being a distance from Twilight fever…I never even thought of so much of all this…wow! I don’t even have a clear thought about writing your own book…same story…again… but changing genders…? Maybe that’s the dinosaur mind in me…? So many of these names are really great names! ‘Tis true, though, time passing always bears its effect…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Twilight has literally never been on my radar. I didn’t even realize most of these were Twilight names (such as Jasper, Rosalie, and Alice. That said, Edythe?!?! NOOOO!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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