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  • Richard James

What's In A Name?

Updated: Mar 18, 2019

Dickens had an ear for them, and I love them. Victorian names seem to be so much more interesting than the names we use today. Think Martin Chuzzlewit, Grandgrind or Micawber. One of the delights of writing stories set in the nineteenth century is the sheer number of interesting names at your disposal! And you can find them anywhere.

I found these packing boxes in a second hand shop recently, and I just had to take a picture so I'd remember the names. You can almost see Horace Pope at his fish counter, hands on hips, a jolly smile on his face. And talking of jolly, what are we to make of Jasper the boot and shoe maker? Jolly by name, jolly by nature perhaps? Or can you imagine him as the complete opposite; a mean, short-tempered individual, forever hostage to a name that didn't fit?


Take a look at this list of traders from Smithfield Market. Names like Absolom, Darmenn & Curl and Keevil & Keevil positively reek of the nineteenth century. So it's perhaps no surprise that some names on this list have made their way into my stories. In fact, the whole of Smithfield Market has made its way into my short story from Bowman's Casebook, The Smithfield Murder. You can read it for free by subscribing to my mailing list!


If you read my first Bowman Of The Yard novel when it's released, The Head In The Ice, you'll see I'm a sucker for a colourful name. Isambard Fogg, Jabez Kane and Ignatius Hicks all feature. Just be grateful I didn't throw in a Pumblechook for luck!

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