Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Naming Your Characters - Historical Eras

Another important consideration when creating names for your characters in a story set in the medieval period is that there were a limited number of Christian names in use in the Middle Ages. Men would have been known as Henry, Thomas, William, John, Richard, Robert, Roger, Edward and a few others that are familiar, in addition to names that are not as common today, such as Walter or Hugh. For women, names appear to be even more limited, with many ladies being called Elizabeth, Mary, Anne, Margaret and some that are now uncommon, such as Joan or Matilda. Consequently, it’s vital to choose the right name for the right time period. Obviously, you won’t use a very modern name for your medieval character, but you also don’t want your story that is set in 1300 to be littered with names that weren’t used widely until the mid-fifteen century. The same applies to stories set in the late eighteen century and Napoleonic era, when names like Charlotte, Cassandra, Louisa, Charles, James and others, which are less popular today, were very much in favour. An examination of the names used in novels of the period, such the works of Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, is a good starting point for this, but websites are again an excellent source for this era. 

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