In a world where too many babies are named Ashley and Jayden and too many baby name books are saccharine pink and blue, here comes something singular: a book that brings meaning, taste, character, a little bit of attitude, and a refreshing lack of trendiness to the art of naming a baby. Bring Back Beatrice! is a clarion call for parents who know they are naming not just a cuddly newborn, but a human being— a person who will be proud to carry a name like Iris, meaning rainbow (after the Greek messenger goddess who connected the heavens to the earth); Bennett, the medieval form of the name Benedict, meaning “blessing;” Henry, good enough for eight English kings—after all, it means “home ruler;” Diana, the Roman goddess of hunting, the allegorical antecedent of the virgin Queen Elizabeth, and alterego of Wonder Woman; or Beatrice, an old-fashioned beauty with roots in both Dante and Shakespeare.
Bring Back Beatrice! winnows down the universe of names to 1,546 mostly classic examples, and it makes a strong case for each, featuring the name’s definition, its use in history, its connotations and subtleties, its “meaning” in the fuller sense. Included are variations, nicknames, and, especially useful for readers, alternatives— names that have the same flavor, but may sound better with a particular last name or family background. There’s a guide to the basic rules of baby naming: scansion— the sounds, syllables, and rhythm of a name, and how it goes with a last name—ethnic traditions, recent trends, effective use of a middle name, plus an invaluable “flaky test.” Still considering a quirky name? Just imagine yourself buckling in for a flight when a voice comes on, saying, “I’m your captain, (insert quirky name here).” What do you think now?