What's in a name?

What do our first names really say about us? More than you might think, according to Dr Jane Pilcher, Associate Professor at the University of Leicester. She claims that our names often reveal important clues about our age, social class and ethnicity that might affect the way that we are treated by other people. She joins Jane, along with name expert and the founder of the British Baby Names website, Eleanor Nickerson to discuss what's in a name.

How has this classic British name become synonymous with being middle of the road? The actor Jane Asher turned 71 earlier this month and was born in the year that Jane entered the UK top 50. Jane Brody celebrated her 30th birthday last week and was born the year after Jane stopped being a UK top 100 name.

Woman's Hour listener Victoria Smillie wanted to change her surname following her divorce, but realised in doing so that she had never been happy with her given name, Lesley, either. So she changed both. They are joined by another of our listeners, Tracy, who truly hates her name but can't quite bring herself to lose it. By the age of three, Esther Robertson had had three different first names and surnames. Esther joins Jane to discuss how her changing name has affected her life.

The author Charlotte Mendelson keeps lists of names and can deliberate for hours about what to call the characters in her novels. She joins us along with the journalist and editor Alex Clark to discuss the best and worst names in books.

Presenter: Jane Garvey
Producer: Laura Northedge.

Release date:

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Mon 17 Apr 2017 10:00


Role Contributor
PresenterJane Garvey
ProducerLaura Northedge
Interviewed GuestJane Pilcher
Interviewed GuestEleanor Nickerson
Interviewed GuestJane Asher
Interviewed GuestJane Brodie
Interviewed GuestTracy Alexander
Interviewed GuestVictoria Smillie
Interviewed GuestEsther Robertson
Interviewed GuestCharlotte Mendelson
Interviewed GuestAlex Clark

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