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Jane Austen and Names

For Jane Austen, Edmund was a name the represented heroism and chivalry, Maria signified heartlessness and Richard was a joke.

She had a weakness for Emma and a passion for Frederick which endured from her earliest years until she bestowed it on her last, and most romantic, hero.

Unlike most novelists of her period, in naming her characters Jane Austen confined herself to the names found in everyday life, choosing them to fit not only their personalities but their place in society.

In this study of a hitherto neglected area of the novelist’s art, Maggie Lane looks at the history of English nomenclature up to Jane Austen’s time and at the naming patterns and practices current in her society, including who was entitled to use the Christian name of whom.

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