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British Literature Baby Names

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Literature from England spans centuries and within the works of countless writers, poets and playwrights you can find inspiration for baby names for both boys and girls. From well-known wordsmiths such as William Shakespeare to his lesser-known countrymen and women, we bring you a comprehensive list of the best names from British literature.

Preppy baby wearing in a hatMost of the names represented here are from works created in (or inspired by) the 17th century, a time of intrigue and change in Great Britian. The dawn of this century saw the passing of Queen Elizabeth I who was then succeeded by James I (the king behind the Authorized King James Version of the Bible, also known as the King James Bible). He was succeeded by his son Charles I who was eventually beheaded. The following period, from 1649 until 1660, was known as the Interregnum (between kings). During this time theater was banned, amongst many other passtimes, as the ruling body had a strong Puritan stance. Puritan literature dominated during this time and other literature was censored. In 1660 the monarchy was reestablished with the restoration of his son, Charles II. This period is known as the Restoration and writing flourished once again.

Names from our lists come from plays, poems and prose as well as the names of the authors and key figures from this time. Classic, traditional names like James, Charles, Edmund, Edward, Elizabeth, Mary and Katherine were popular during this time, so we chose names that were a little more unique to include here.

Girl names from British Literature


Aemilia: This name, meaning "laborious, eager," was the name of the first woman in England to publish a book of poetry (Aemilia Lanyer).

Aphra: This was the name of one of the first professional British writers, Aphra Behn.

Audrey: From Shakespeare's "As You Like It."

Celia: From Thomas Carew's poem "A Rapture."

Clorin: This was the name of a shepherdess from John Fletcher's play "The Faithful Shepherdess."

Cynthia: From "Cynthia's Revels" by Ben Jonson, this name means "from Mount Kynthos."

Florinda: This name was used by a character from Aphra Behn's play "The Rover" and means "flowering, in bloom."

Hermia: From Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream."

Hero: From Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing."

Imogen: From Shakespeare's "Cymbeline" (this name was created by Shakespeare).

Lucy: A daughter of John Donne (poet).

Margery: From "The Country Wife," a play by Restoration dramatist William Wycherley, this is another version of the name Marjorie.

Orinda: Katherine Philips, poet, used this name to refer to herself in her poems.

Portia: From Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice."

Valeria: From Behn's play "The Rover," this name means "strong, healthy."

Viola: From Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night."

You may also like: Top 50 classic baby girl names

Boy Names from British Literature


Adrian: From Shakespeare's "The Tempest."

Alexio: This name is from a play by James Shirley, a 17th century British playwright.

Dion: From Shakespeare's "A Winter's Tale."

Dryden: This was the last name of an influential poet and playwright (John Dryden).

Duncan: From Shakespeare's "Macbeth."

Fenton: From Shakespeare's "Merry Wives of Windsor."

Lennox: From Shakespeare's "Macbeth."

Marston: This comes from John Martson, a poet, playwright and satirist.

Milton: From poet John Milton, writer of "Paradise Lost."

Nestor: From Shakespeare's "Troilus & Cressida."

Oliver: This was the name of the Lord Protector during the Interregnum (Oliver Cromwell).

Orlando: From Shakespeare's "As You Like It."

Ross: From Shakespeare's "Macbeth."

Samuel: Samuel Butler was a poet and satirist and is best known for a poem called "Hudibras."

Spenser: Edmund Spenser was famous for an epic poem called "The Faerie Queene."

Toby: From Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night."

You may also like: Top 50 classic baby boy names

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