Celebrity guest: Meghan, literary+Catholic namer

The consultation I had scheduled for today had to be postponed, so I’m excited to bump up this post I had scheduled for later this week!

When I worked on that post on Catholic literary names the week before last, and saw all of your great comments and suggestions, I immediately thought of a beautiful family who I follow on Instagram whose daughters have the most amazing Catholic+literary names and I’d been meaning for ages to ask the mama if I could share them on here! So I asked and she said yes and I’m delighted to share their name stories with you all today!

Meghan is a FertilityCare Practitioner teaching the Creighton Mode of NFP, and her husband is “in the editing phases of his first book (!!!) and frequently freelances for the Catholic Beer Club and Aleteia.” What a cool couple!

They have three daughters, and Meghan writes,

The source of our inspiration for our first names thus far has largely been from literature, so far authors have been the namesake of our three girls. But as we’ve created lists before each birth they’ve spanned all aspects of literature. Aside from that, we like them all to have a little nod to our Catholic faith, but in a unique/eclectic not-so-traditional way. I’ve been told my names are Catholic hipster, but trust me — least. hipster. girl. ever. over here, full blown SAHM stuff of your childhood happening, so I don’t know how I’m doing it.”


My husband and I are both avid readers (at least we try!) and big literature fans. Neither of us got degrees relating to the subject, but both love to write! … We never find out the gender of our babies before they are born, so while we await their arrival, we typically have a short running list of names for both a boy and a girl.

We always S T R U G G L E to think of boy names that fit in with our style … or should I say we struggle to agree on boy names, we both can come up with boy names for days, but none that the other is on board with. But the Lord has been merciful to us in that and we have only girls so far!

With this last pregnancy I was very near considering contacting you for a consult when it came to boy name ideas just in case we had one because I was panicking! Thankfully we came to an agreement — one so oddly obvious we couldn’t believe it hadn’t been decided on earlier!

As a Meghan (a very popular name at its prime) it was important to me that we tried for more unique names! …. We are both QUITE Irish and so we often find ways to hint toward our ancestry in a lot of our name choices.”

Are you all ready to see these beautiful names?! (( drumroll ))

Flannery Ellen: “She’s named after Flannery O’Connor. The name accomplished just what we wanted. Something unique, with a Catholic flavor to it — something subtle that only the most Catholic and well-read among us usually pick up on. We tend to make fast friends with priests and scholars when we introduce Flannery! Now her middle name is a little bit of a different story. First of all, I’m picky about how the first name and middle name sound together. But when it gets down to it, her middle name is after my youngest sister Ellie. But we also have some other women from my side of the family that it subtly alludes too — I have a grandma and a great-grandma both named Helen, so its kind of a nice marrying of all those lovely ladies. I always assume that Flannery may take St. Helen as a patron one day if she so chooses!

Harper Edel: “First, I have to clarify that we have chosen a different pronunciation for ‘Edel’, we say it like it rhymes with ‘pedal’. We thought it added to the uniqueness of her name to have a different pronunciation, which was important to us since as it turned out Harper had a bit of a rise in popularity around the time she was born. But as you can guess, her first name is after Harper Lee the well loved author of To Kill a Mockingbird. And Ven. Edel Quinn for her middle name. I had to be on bed rest for three months while pregnant with Harper and I was reading a lot about this incredible Irish Missionary during that time. One day when Zach came home I just told him, “if we have a girl we have to name her after this powerhouse Irish missionary!” Seriously, she is so legit. Fearless, disciplined, selfless, and zealous! All traits I hope my girls will embody in some way!

Willa Margaret: “She is named after Willa Cather who famously penned O Pioneers and Death Comes for an Archbishop. I also have a great great Aunt Willa who was known to be stunning and strong. My great grandmother is still living (91!) and loves when we bring little Willa to visit her — you can see the rush of nostalgia just at the mention of her name! She has a hard time remembering who everyone is, but she always remembers that there is a baby named Willa! Now the Margaret part … So, our girls were on a big Daniel Tiger kick while I was pregnant and they do a fantastic job in that show explaining how it will be when mom has a new baby and so naturally, my girls related very well to this. Maybe a little too well … Daniel Tiger’s baby sister is named Margaret in the cartoon, “Baby Margaret”. Just kind of became how the girls referred to the baby in my belly — even though we didn’t know the gender! This went on for so long and no matter what I said to try and explain that if the baby was a boy it wouldn’t be named Margaret, etc. etc. I started to just say, “If it’s a girl, maybe that can be her middle name”. Well, then while I was pregnant we drew patron saints for the year and the patron we drew for the baby was St. Margaret of Cortona … so finally after a few months of ‘maybe that will be her middle name’ I had to ask my husband if that was in fact going to be our potential daughter’s middle name!? We both just decided … Why not!? So that one just sort of happened haha! But I love it!

Aren’t these ah-MAZ-ing names??!! Can you see why I was so taken with them, and why I wanted to share them here?? I love each one!!

I asked Meghan if she would feel comfortable sharing some of the names on their list for the future, and this is what she said:

-Emerson, for either boy or girl. We were kind of leaning toward boy even though I kind of preferred it as a girl name (but then my cousin had a baby girl and named her Emerson, so I decided to nix it for now)

– Louis, Zach LOVES Louis Lamore, but I just wasn’t so sure if it fit with the style…

– Jack Clement (I love all the hard ‘k ‘ sounds especially with our last name), After Jack London and then Clement after St. Clement but its also a family name of Zach’s. He had a cousin a few generations back who died very young from tuberculosis while working as a doctor, it just sounds so romantically like the story of many of the great saints we know and love, I often dream up what he may have been like!

– Gilbert, because G.K. Chesterton and also Anne of Green Gables

– J.D.- One of my husband’s favorite books is the Catcher in the Rye, so he was really trying to talk me into Jerome David, but I just can’t get on board with initials … or Jerome for that matter.

– Quinn and Sully, okay okay — these are more inspired by my mild obsession with Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, but I love Quinn for a girl and Sully for a boy and I think stylistically they work with our current names. So help me find a literary tie so I can get them on the list for next time! 😉 I tried suggesting Solanus Casey, nicknamed Sully … hubby LOVES Solanus Casey — we’ll see if we ever have a boy haha!

Authors/ books we love and would love to use as inspiration:
Some of these are our most favorite books/ authors but we struggle to find a way to utilize them in a way that matches our naming style and is unique …
John Steinbeck
Ernest Hemingway
Little House on the Prairie (we recently just moved back to SD and are reading them with the girls)
C.S. Lewis
East of Eden
Anne of Green Gables
Charles Dickens
I know there are more, but my brain and memory are failing me …

I love all of this!! I personally think Gilbert is a slam dunk for them — I don’t know anyone who doesn’t think “Gilbert Blythe” upon hearing the name, so to me it fits in perfectly with the obviously literary first names their girls have, and that tie-in with G.K. Chesterton is so great! Sully for Solanus is amazing too, I love that! I don’t know of any literary connections though?

Other ideas off the top of my head include:
Wilder (b) for Little House on the Prairie (but too much “er” with Harper?)
Eden (g) for East of Eden (similar in appearance to Edel, but okay since one is a middle name and one might be a first name?)
Blythe (g) for Anne of Green Gables (but this would knock Gilbert out of contention)
Caspian (b) for C.S. Lewis, loooove!

I looked through the comments you all left on the Catholic lit post and thought these might be good (though I haven’t read the books they’re from yet):

Brede (for In This House of Brede, which wasn’t on Meghan’s list but I like Brede! Reminds me of Bridey from Brideshead Revisited, and it’s said like the Irish name Bríd)
Ransom (from C.S. Lewis’ The Space Trilogy)

And I did a quick search on the Name Matchmaker on the babynamewizard site for names that have a similar style to Flannery, Harper, and Willa, and I really liked these (though they’re not all related to the books/authors Meghan said they like):

Darcy (Mr. Darcy! But I like it better for a girl)
Scarlett (she’s got that Irish thing going on too!)
Jules (Jules Verne)
Atticus (too much with Harper?)
Barrett (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
Bennet (the Bennet sisters)
Tennyson (such a cool name!)
Gulliver (I always thought Gulliver and Tennyson would make a cool pair of brothers)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this family spotlight! Thank you to Meghan for sharing all of this with us! If you have any name ideas for this family, please leave them in the comments, and be sure to hop on over to Meghan’s Instagram to catch a peek of her little lovelies!


22 thoughts on “Celebrity guest: Meghan, literary+Catholic namer

  1. LOVE these names!! Gilbert seems like it’s one of those names that women love (maybe because of Mr. Blythe?) and their husbands hate. At least that’s my experience… I also love Wilder (also references Wilder Thornton!) for them.

    This also reminded me of a little generational tiff in my dad’s family, haha. My uncle and aunt (older parents in their 40s when their first was born last year) named their little girl Emerson, and my grandmother was beside herself and very vocal about not liking the name. (She was spoiled by all of us older grandkids having pretty traditional Irish-ish names, I guess…) Seeing that on the list made me laugh. I personally love the name, and it is charming on a little girl!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is so fun! Agatha for Christie? Margery for Allingham? Louisa for Alcott? Edith for Nesbit? Dorothy for Sayers? I do think boys are harder but I wouldn’t worry about mixing “styles” because Harper especially is a bit different. Jack would actually go nicely there because it would match her popularity. Charles/Charlie is another great idea and I am partial to Louis as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My oldest is David Jerome – didn’t know he had a JD Salinger connection – lol.

    What about Beck for a boy (from Steinbeck)? – has the feel of other first names in style. Or full out Beckett which could be the literary nod and the Catholic saint connection.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I want to steal every single one of Meghan and her husband’s names I’m literally swooning over Willa Margaret. I think it’s one of the most perfect names I have ever heard in my life. It’s so old lady and adorable and just flows so well! Also, they just so happen to be two of my favorite names! I love literary Catholic names SO much. They’re probably my favorite subcategory of names because books some of my favorite things ever.

    Love that they have a Flannery. Flannery O’Connor is such a cool writer and woman. Her life is so inspiring.

    Love Holly’s suggest of Louisa, or maybe even Alcott for a boy could be totally cool!

    What about Evelyn for a girl? I know Evelyn Waugh is male (and his name is pronounced EVE-lyn, instead of the now more popular EV-lyn), but I think it could still work! It’s also more popular like Harper, so it bridges that, and it’s more old fashioned liked Willa, so it’s a good connection there because Flannery and Harper are both so surname-y (in the best way!).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rose could be a way to honor Little House on the Prairie as Laura Inglalls Wilder as it’s her only surviving kid plus was a writer herself. Her book Young Pioneers was partly based off Laura’s parents, Caroline and Charles marriage. Charles could cover a lot bases, Little House, Dickens, East of Eden. Almanzo is one from Little House Series that I have never heard in real life to!

    Shirley for Anne of Green Gables, plus she had a son later in the series named that so it could work for both boy and girl. Avonlea would work for a girl to and Cornelia has that older style Willa reminds me of.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. For a couple of years now I’ve loved the idea of Bronte/Bronty as a literary name. Obviously for the Bronte sisters. I think spelling it Bronty clears up pronunciation, and I think that spelling makes it work for a boy. And you already know I love Forest for the Harry Potter connection (the chapter, The Forest Again) and Rohan for Lord of the Rings. 🙂 Love this family’s names!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. For A of GG I like Maud(e) for a girl or Montgomery for a boy.

    Lewis is lovely to honor C.S. Lewis.

    There’s also JRR Tolkien if you like him – maybe John-Reuel?

    Lucy Maud Montgomery also wrote Magic for Marigold, which is where I found my third daughter’s name back when I was in 6th grade! There is also a Catholic author named Marigold Hunt (I think deceased now?)

    And my second daughter’s name I got from the Diary of Anne Frank – Annelies – though we add an ‘e’ at the end. We even gave her the middle name “Frank” unintentionally – she’s Anneliese Francesca. Lol! That didn’t hit me til later. Ha!

    My nephew is Hilaire, as in Hilaire Belloc.

    And Alice – Alice von Hildebrand is the bomb! Even Hildy would be an honor to her. Okay, I just totally came up with that and I may have to remember that one if there’s ever a Number Ten here.

    In the same vein, there is also Dietrich.

    Little House Books – Wilder would make a great boy name.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I loved this post! The hint I gave people about our son’s name when I was pregnant was that it was literary and started with an F. People guessed Flannery most often. But my son’s name is Fyodor. : )

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Girls:
    Dagney – Atlas Shrugged
    Josephine – Little Women
    Beatrice – Dante’s Inferno
    Marlowe – for Christopher
    Pearl – Scarlett Letter

    Boys: I love Gilbert for you. If it doesn’t work:
    Bram – author of Dracula
    Ernest – seems like it would fit
    Levin – Anna Karenina
    Charles Wallace – Wrinkle in Time
    Ford – Ford Maddox Ford
    Holden – is this too popular?
    Jonas – The Giver

    Liked by 1 person

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