How to choose the right name for the right era?
It took me until a third of the way through book 2 of a series of 6 to begin to think ‘is this for real?’. It was fiction, of course it wasn’t real! The problem wasn’t the storyline, the writing or grammatical mistakes (there were no errors!), the lead male character was someone most romance readers would like to meet…
The problem was the main female characters name. There it is. Something so simple. This is what nearly made me stop reading, and not go on to buy the remaining 4 books. To say it was a mouthful is an understatement. To say it was unlikely is nearer the mark. It was out of era. This played on my mind as I began write my current book. It just kept bugging me. How could I avoid the same mistake?
So, I did some research. First, I came across the Top 10 Most Popular Baby Names for 2019 (for babies born in the UK). The most popular name for baby girls was Olivia, and weirdly, it was Oliver for boys. Next, I found some great information produced by the Department of Social Security and found that the most popular name for baby girls since 1900s until 1960s (yes! 60 years!) was Mary. I wasn’t surprised, and secretly pleased, as I love this name. I was fascinated when this trend wasn’t repeated in the boys’ names. For the same period, John, Robert, James and Michael were all the most popular for differing lengths of time.
So, if you’re writing about main characters who were born in the 1900s, John and Mary might be good main character names; if they were born 30 years later, Robert and Mary would be a wise choice, and if they were born in 1960, Michael and Lisa might suit. You can find the whole list here: https://www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames/top5names.html