Saturday, September 24, 2011

Name Round-up: The Names of Nick Bantock

Abby, Lou, and Elea have all bee talking about names in works of fiction, and asking their readers what names from fiction would they consider using? Well, I always have a hard time answering that question because my brain always overloads and need to be restarted in order to function again. However, I think that a lot of books that I've read as a kid have something to do with my name love today. And some of my favorite books were the works of Nick Bantock.

To clarify, no, these are not children's books. Well, he did do children's books early in his career, but that wasn't what I was reading. My parents let me read the Griffin & Sabine trilogy at six or seven years old thinking, "Pretty pictures mean it's a kid's book, right?" They eventually took them away from me because Griffin says, "Of all the fucking nerve!" at one point (sorry, parents reading this). That didn't stop me from reading the books behind their backs. Bantock's books are also filled with tons of sensuality that totally flew over my head at that young age.

Although my love for Nick Bantock is primarily due to his exotic and eclectic collage-style artwork, I couldn't help but notice the names of the characters as well. Here are just a few of the names I was introduced to because of him:

1. Griffin: The Griffin & Sabine trilogy is Bantock's most famous work and it's what propelled him into making these artsy stories for adults. This was actually the first time I had ever seen the name Griffin. It used to be one of my favorites because of the book, but unfortunately it has shot up in popularity since then. Griffin is a Latin name meaning "hooked nose."

2. Sabine: My grandfather's name was Sabin, but I didn't know that while he was alive because everyone called him Sam. So this was the first time I had seen this name as well. Sabine references the Sabine people, an Ancient Italian tribe.

3. Niccolo: Niccolo is the computer ghost in The Venetian's Wife. In life, he was a trader along the Silk Road. Niccolo is the Italian variant of Nicholas, and it means "people of victory."

4. Yasoda: The beloved wife of Niccolo, Yasoda is the daughter of a king and a sorceress. In the Hindu religion, Yasoda (sometimes spelled Yashoda) is Krishna's foster mother.

5 & 6. Basia & Umberto: The names of Niccolo and Yasoda's two surviving children. Basia is a Polish variant of Barbara and it means "foreign." Umberto is an Italian variant of Humbert and it means "renowned Hun."

7. Hurtago: Armon Hurt is the lead character in The Forgetting Room. Hurtago is a surname Nick Bantock invented for the purposes of being able to shorten it to Hurt when the lead character is running away from his past. It wasn't until he finished the book when he realized how appropriate the -ago was when the lead character took back his full name at the end of the book.

8. Ceres: Another character from The Forgetting Room. The name is derived from the Indo-European root ker, meaning "to grow." Ceres is the Roman equivalent of Demeter.

9. Sage: An important character in The Museum at Purgatory, who suffers from amnesia and goes by Non for most of the book. This was the first time I've heard of this name, and now it seems like it's everywhere. Except that the character in the book is a man, and it's more common for girls. Sage means "wise," and it also a type of herb.

10. Archelo: Also in The Museum at Purgatory, there's an eccentric female archaeologist named Archelo Bora Cavarn. Archelo is most likely a variant of Archelos, Greek for "champion" and more often used as a surname.

11, 12, & 13. Zephyr, Boreos, & Sirocco: Windflower is Nick Bantock's only foray into unillustrated fiction, with mixed results. These three characters have a connection that is probably supposed to remain a secret until the end, but anyone well versed in names could probably guess it in a heartbeat.

I would consider all of those for my children. Of course, I'm very influenced by literature, so you're going to find a lot of round-ups like this on this blog. What books influenced your naming style


Image Credit:
Illustration by Nick Bantock


  1. Griffin and Sabine are gorgeous, and actually most of these names are lovely.

    Pretty sure anyone named Yasoda would end up being called Yoda as their nickname ... ;)

  2. I really want to name by children after literary characters, TV and from mythology:

    Phineas - No, not from Phineas and Ferb but from A Separate Peace by John Knowles
    Atticus - To Kill a Mockingbird
    Loki - Norse mythology
    Persephone - Greek mythology
    Castiel - the angel of Thursday, Supernatural
    Finnick - The Hunger Games
    Merlin - Arthurian legend
    Freya - Arthurian/Celtic
    Morgana - Arthurian
    Guineviere - Arthurian
    Dean - Supernatural
    Winchester - Supernatural


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