My paper "Names Shakespeare Didn't Invent: Imogen, Olivia, and Viola Revisited" is now available online from Names.
This paper has been in the pipeline for...at least two years, possibly three, long enough that I can't really remember, but I'm really pleased that it's finally published online! Here's the abstract:
Just as Shakespeare’s plays left their indelible stamp on the English language, so too did his names influence the naming pool in England at the beginning of the 17th century and beyond, and certain popular modern names are often described as inventions of Shakespeare. In this article, we revisit three names which are often listed as coinages of Shakespeare’s and show that this received wisdom, though oft-repeated, is in fact incorrect. The three names are Imogen, the heroine of Cymbeline; and Olivia and Viola, the heroines of Twelfth Night. All three of these names pre-date Shakespeare’s use. Further, we show in two of the three cases that it is plausible that Shakespeare was familiar with this earlier usage. We conclude by briefly discussing why these names are commonly mistakenly attributed to Shakespeare’s imagination, and the weaker, but not mistaken, claims which may underlie these attributions.
If you do not have access to the journal and are interested in a copy of the paper, please drop me a line.
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