Have any of you read P.G. Wodehouse? I am devouring the Jeeves books right now (on "The Inimitable Jeeves" and just finished "Right Ho, Jeeves"), and one of the most delicious things about these books, which are like crack if you are a fan of British humor, is the names. Gussie Fink Nottle. Bingo Little. G. D'Arcy "Stilton" Cheesewright. Tuppy Glossop. Bertram Wooster. And, of course, Jeeves. I consider J.K. Rowling another more recent master of the art, with names that almost eliminate the need for introductions for her characters: Bellatrix Lestrange, Albus Dumbledore, Draco Malfoy, Dudley Dursley.
The names of the character in the novel I'm working on are more of the "I browsed the student-directory of my kids' school" variety. I am terrible at making up names. But in some cases--or for some kinds of books--I think the names matter less than in others. My book is set in contemporary New York, and my main character, in many ways, is meant to be a kind of every-woman: giving her a silly or unusual name wouldn't work. On the other hand, Harry Potter is just the right name for a extraordinary/ordinary English boy, and I'm glad, for instance, that Rowling didn't name him Charles Smith. (Though of course if she had, I might now think that was just the thing...though no, I don't think I would.)
So I'd like to know -- what are some of your favorite names of characters from literature? And, if you are a fiction writer, what are some of your favorite names of the characters in your own books?
I do have one name in my novel I'm proud of -- it's the name I've given to the fictional physicist who invents...well I can't say more or I'll give too much away. But her name is Dr. Diane Sexton. She's named for my mentor and friend the late Diane Middlebrook, who wrote an award-winning biography of the poet Anne Sexton. The real Diane was not a physicist, but of the fictional Diane, who retains much of her daring, panache, and brilliant determination, I believe she would have been proud.