The Baby Names Authors Chose for their Own Children

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Alison Doherty

Senior Contributor

Alison Doherty is a writing teacher and part time assistant professor living in Brooklyn, New York. She has an MFA from The New School in writing for children and teenagers. She loves writing about books on the Internet, listening to audiobooks on the subway, and reading anything with a twisty plot or a happily ever after.

Authors have to pick out names over and over again for their characters. And some of them are pretty fantastic at it. Shakespeare helped invent the names Olivia, Miranda, and Jessica, which all are popular today. Charles Dickens gave his characters names that represented their personalities, from the miserly Scrooge in A Christmas Carol to the pompous Mr. Pumblechook in Great Expectations. And we all should bow to Jane Austen for naming her most beautiful, most popular, most perfect character after herself in Pride and Prejudice. Many kids today are named for iconic literary characters or authors. Harper, Atticus, and Scout have all become popular names inspired by To Kill a Mockingbird. And Matilda, Eloise, Ramona and Madeline all are certainly getting a boost from the association with their spunky children’s book characters. Authors use names to symbolize many aspects of their characters and in doing so create many strong associations. But this made me curious. Since authors can be so intentional and specific with their character names, what names do they choose when it comes to having their own children?

Most authors create more books than offspring (Tolstoy is the only exception I know of, with 13 children). And each book has dozens of characters to name. So I’m assuming many writers save their favorite names for their children. Or in some cases their children share names with some of their most iconic characters. I suppose their spouses probably had some say in the matter too!

This curiosity led me down a deep research rabbit hole. One that many probably find boring, but I got more and more interested in with each Wikipedia article I clicked on. Without further babbling from me, here are the names over 60 authors chose for their own children.

Baby Names Chosen By Authors of Classic Literature

  • William Shakespeare’s three children were named Hamnet, Judith, and Susan.
  • Geoffrey Chaucer had four children named Thomas, Agnes, Lewis, and Elizabeth.
  • The excellent character-namer Charles Dickens was almost as prolific as a father as he was a fiction writer. His children were named Charles, Mary, Kate, Walter, Francis, Alfred, Sydney, Henry, Dora, and Edward.
  • Leo Tolstoy’s 13 children were named Sergei, Tatyana, Ilya, Lev, Maria, Peter, Nikolai, Varvara, Andrei, Michael, Alexie, Alexandra, and Ivan.
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky’s children were named Lyubov, Alexey, Sonya, and Fyodor.
  • Mark Twain named his children Clara, Jean, Susy, and Langdon.
  • Mary Shelley and Percy Shelley named their children Percy, William, and Clara.
  • Herman Melville’s children were named Elizabeth, Malcolm, Frances and Stanwix.
  • Maya Angelou had one son named Guy.
  • George Orwell gave his son the mouthful of name Richard Horatio Blair.
  • Gabriel García Márquez had two sons named Rodrigo and Gonzalo.
  • Alex Haley named his children Cynthia, William, and Lydia.
  • James Joyce’s two children were named Giorgio and Lucia.
  • Chinua Achebe’s children were named Nwando, Chidi Chike, Chinelo, and Ikechukwu.
  • Wole Soyinka had five children named Olaokun, Iyetade, Moremi, Makin, and Peyibomi.
  • Salman Rushdie named his two children Zafar and Milan.
  • John Steinbeck’s sons were named Thomas and John.
  • Alice Walker had one daughter named Rebecca.
  • Toni Morrison named her sons Slade and Harold.
  • Francis Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald initially named their only daughter Patricia, but famously changed her name to Frances Scott after her father when she was still an infant. And she was called Scottie.
  • Ernest Hemingway had three sons named Gregory, Patrick, and Jack.
  • William Faulkner named his daughter Jill.

Names Mystery Writers Chose for their Children

  • Arthur Conan Doyle’s brood were named Adrian, Arthur, Mary Louise, Jean, and Denis.
  • Agatha Christie named her only daughter Rosalind.
  • Daphne Du Maurier’s three children were named Christian Frederick, Flavia, and Tessa.
  • P.D. White’s two daughters were named Claire and Jane.
  • Dashiell Hammett named his daughters Mary Jane and Josephine.
  • Dorothy L. Sayers had one son, who she named John Anthony.
  • James Patterson’s one child was named Jack.
  • John Grisham named his children Shea and Ty.
  • Stephen King named his children Joe, Naomi, and Owen.
  • Gillian Flynn gave her surname to her son when she named him Flynn.

Names Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers Gave Their Children

  • J.R.R. Tolkien named his children John Francis, Michael Hilary, Christopher John, and Pricilla Anne.
  • Isaac Asimov had two children named Robyn and David.
  • Ursula K. Le Guin named her children Elisabeth, Theo, and Caroline.
  • Neil Gaiman named his children Anthony, Holly, Maddy, and Michael.
  • Diana Wynn Jones named her three sons Richard, Colin, and Michael.
  • Ann Rice named her children Christopher and Michele.
  • Margaret Atwood named her daughter Eleanor.
  • Nnedi Okorafor named her daughter Anyaugo.
  • Jules Verne had one son named Michel.
  • Frank Herbert named his three children Brian, Bruce, and Penny.
  • Philip Pullman had two sons named Thomas and James.

Baby Names Romance Novelists Chose for their Children

  • Nora Roberts had two sons named Jason and Dan.
  • Jude Devereaux named her son Sam Alexander.
  • Julie Garwood had two sons named Bryan and Gerry Jr.
  • Brenda Jackson named her two sons Gerald and Brandon.
  • Kathleen Woodiwiss named her children Sean, Heath, and Dorren.
  • Rosemary Rogers named her children Roseanne, Sharon, Michael, and Adam.
  • Lisa Kleypas named her two children Griffin and Lindsay.
  • Barbara Cartland had three children named Raine, Ian, and Glen.

Names Chosen by Children’s Authors for their Kids

  • Eric Carle had two children named Rolf and Cristen.
  • Roald Dahl named his children Olivia, Tessa, Theo, Lucy, and Ophelia.
  • Madeleine L’Engle had three children: Bion, Maria, and Josephine.
  • Jacqueline Woodson named her children Toshi Georgiana and Jackson-Leroi.
  • Edith Nesbit had five children named Fabian, Rosamund, Paul, John, and Iris.
  • A.A. Milne famously borrowed his son’s name Christopher Robin for the iconic character in Winnie the Pooh.
  • L.M. Montgomery had three sons named Chester, Stuart, and Hugh.
  • Judy Blume’s children were named Lawrence and Randy.
  • Beverly Cleary had two children named Malcolm James and Marianne Elizabeth.
  • Christopher Paul Curtis named his four children Cydney, Steven, Ebyaan Hothan, and Ayaan Leslie.
  • Kwame Alexander named his daughter Samayah.

It was interesting to see so many popular names that authors chose for their children. Maybe some of them saved their creativity for their fiction? Or they just decided to go with more mainstream options. But while there are a lot of Michaels and Elizabeths on the list, there are some unique names that stand out as well. Two names that caught my eye were Toni Morrison’s son Slade and Roald Dahl’s daughter Ophelia. Such cool names! And the most surprising name to me was Melville’s son Stanwix. I’ve never heard that one before. My curiosity on what names authors chose for their own children has been satisfied…at least for right now.