[DWJ] new book preview

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Thu Jun 27 09:38:34 EDT 2013

On Thu, 27 Jun 2013 01:16:55 +0100
Eleanor Joslin <eleanor at dreamvine.org.uk> wrote:

> Moving a maiden name into a middle name position is not something
> that happens much in Britain. (Never say never, but I don't know of
> any examples.) Giving a family surname to a child as a forename seems
> less common here too. So the most common assumption is that if a name
> looks like a surname, it is one, although this may be changing as we
> absorb forenames-that-used-to-be-surnames from the USA.

I know at least six people in England with an extra surname in their
name, including my ex's family who use the maternal grandmother's
maiden name for the penultimate name of a first son and the paternal
grandmother's maiden name for the penultimate name of the second son,
then work up through the generations if they need to.  This family
tradition does not include the girls.  Another one I've known is a child
whose parents were not married, who has his father's and his mother's
name with no hyphenation.  Yet another had father's and mother's
surnames just because the parents had felt like adding the two together
when they got married, as far as I can make out: she was the only child
of an only child and wanted to keep that surname in her name, or
something of the sort.

It seems to be purely a matter of personal preference, like the spelling
of any name, and ought to be respected as such.  Like not calling
someone you've just met by a nickname, I suppose: someone is Helen not
Nellie unless they tell you it's Nellie to friends, as it were. 

> ISTR the English author Michael Marshall Smith is in the same boat as
> DWJ name-wise; Marshall is his middle name and goes onto his books to
> distinguish him from other Michael Smiths.

Diana used her maiden name rather than her married name, I think
perhaps because children's books and a serious professorship seemed
not to mix at that point or perhaps just because she wanted it to be
*her* thing, then added in her middle name because Diana Jones is (as
she said, quoting) Not Memorable.  (She didn't research the matter at
the Eton and Harrow match, though!)  At the time, I doubt that she
expected people not to know what she would regard as a perfectly
ordinary forename was a forename rather than a surname: if the forenames
had been the other way round nobody would go around calling an author
named Wynne Diana Jones "Diana Jones" as if it were a surname, or
putting her books under D.


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