One of the first blogs I did after joining Austen Authors was on names and their meanings. (You can read it if you click on that first sentence.) I looked at the names Jane Austen used in her books, the meanings of those names, and the possible inspirations. Well, I have been at it again and have a couple new names to introduce you to and, possibly, beg your forgiveness for.
There was a post some time ago on Colonel Fitzwilliam’s name (I thought it was on Austen Authors, but was unable to find it, most likely because my memory is too short regarding who wrote it, when, and what the title was). Jane Austen did not provide a Christian name for him, but most JAFF writers tend to default to Richard (me included until recently). In that old post, the author noted that when Jane Austen did use the name Richard, it was not a favorable character. So, let’s dive into that a bit.
Richard means “brave ruler,” but Jane Austen had a tendency to call these characters Dick, more precisely poor Dick (Richard Musgrove, Persuasion). Apparently, the publisher who purchased the rights to Northanger Abbey but never published it was named Richard Crosby. She even went so far as to write to Cassandra saying, “Mr. Richard Harvey’s match is put off till he has got a better Christian name, of which he has great hopes.” [Jane Austen’s Letters, ed. Deirdre Le Faye (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 10, Letter 6]
For this reason, I have made the decision not to call our beloved Colonel Fitzwilliam Richard anymore (unless of course he plays the part accordingly). Instead, I have fallen in love with the name Phillip for him, meaning “lover of horses.” As many authors tend to place him in the cavalry, it seems most appropriate to me. I apologize to anyone who is positive he is a Richard. (And yes, it did take me a bit of time to become accustomed to it.)
One down. Now, how about the Colonel’s older brother? In my next book which (if everything stays on schedule) will be out in June, I named him Ashton. Being completely honest on this one, I went with the idea that it is a family tradition to name the eldest son after the mother’s family name, so Ashton means “ash tree town.” Moving on . . .
(I know these are supposed to be Mr. and Miss Bingley, but just go with it. 😉 )
I mentioned a few times that the next book was to be just one, but Ashton hijacked it and it is now the first in a series. The second book introduces a character that I think everyone will love. She is an American (gasp) from Virginia. (Did I mention I named this the Defying Propriety Series?) Her name is Adsila Carrington (pronounced ahd-SEE-lah) and it means “blossom.” I can’t wait to introduce her to you, but that is going to have to wait for another day as I need to get back to writing to meet the deadlines.
There are a few others you will meet such as Uncle Henry (“ruler of the home”), Aunt Esther (“star” or “myrtle leaf”), Cara Gallagher (“dear one” or “beloved” and her last name means “friend and lover of foreigners”), and her granddaughter, Sinead (“God is gracious”). Lots of new characters for you to fall in love with in a few months. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoyed this little bit of background on them.
Stay safe and well and keep reading!