In May of 2010 the Social Security Administration released its list of most popular baby names in the United States for the year 2009. Not surprisingly, some literary names did show up with more and more popularity due to some success of books turned into movies. Here is a list of some of the names that have taken off in popularity due to someone’s favorite character becoming very popular in 2009.
Isabella was the number one girl’s name in 2009 probably due to the uber-popularity of the Twilight Saga. Bella Swan is the main character and of course Bella is short for Isabella which is the Spanish form of the name Elizabeth. While this is the first year Isabella has been number one on the list the name itself has been popular for many years in a row. In 2003, Isabella was number eleven on the girl’s side and slowly rose up to become number one in 2009.
Cullen made a large jump in baby names for boys. Until 2009 the name did make the top 1,000 list but it was usually between number 750 and 800 for the past five years. In 2009, Cullen improved 300 spots and was the 485th most popular name for boys. Again, the Twilight series flexes its muscle as the chief male character’s name is Edward Cullen who is a vampire that falls for Bella.
Emma is the number two name for girls in 2009 and is certainly one from classic literature. Jane Austen’s titular character that tries to play matchmaker and realizes that she’s put her own feelings aside despite wanting to see other people happy and in love.
Jacob is the most popular boys name for 2009 and while the Biblical name has been number one for over ten years, 2009 was especially kind as Jacob Black from Twilight is a werewolf who fights Edward Cullen for Bella’s affections.
Edward rose in popularity due to Twilight as well. Last year Edward was the 137th most popular name for boys which is on par with what it usually is. Perhaps another reason Edward is popular is another literary character in Edward used periodically by Jane Austen such as Edward Ferrars in Pride and Prejudice or Edward Wentworth in Persuasion.
Jasper rose in popularity suddenly in 2009 much like Cullen. Last year it was the 337th most popular name for boys compared to 449 in 2008. Jasper Hale is Edward’s brother and fellow vampire in the Twilight saga.
Emmett has also risen in 2009. Slightly more popular than Jasper it ranked as number 332 in 2009 as compared to 547 in 2008. Emmett Cullen is also of the vampires in Twilight and a brother to Edward.
William, a name dear to my heart, rose up three spots from number eight in 2008 up to five in 2009. While not many literary characters today are named William the name is synonymous with the bard William Shakespeare. The name probably remains popular due to the heir to the British throne after Prince Charles is named Prince William who just recently got engaged.
Jackson’s slight rise in popularity between 2008 and 2009 may be in part due to the popular young adult series Percy Jackson. Perseus may not be as popular but Jackson was the 32nd most popular boys name and then it went up to 25 in 2009. The movie for Percy Jackson came out in February and is based upon a teenager who is the son of the Greek god Zeus and has extraordinary powers.
Emily continues to be a popular name for girls and was the sixth most popular name in 2009. Emily could be a reference to Emily Dickinson who is widely studied in both high school and college English classes.
What surprised me the most about the American list was that names like Harry and Ronald weren’t any more popular because of Harry Potter. Hermione was nowhere on the list for girls.