Catherine is one of the most popular girls’ names and has so many pet names and derivations I wonder where to start.
Perhaps one should go backwards to the Greeks as the name seems to be originally Katharine and means ‘pure’. for a longish while my blog was backed by the picture I took of an imposing statue in a Greek Temple on Sicily. Was she a Katharine?
It’s a name I have a great interest in because it features not only in my family, but in my husband’s. Down through generations we have both deliberate and accidental use of Catherine, Kate, Katy. Nowadays of course, babies are more likely to be given an up-to-date version such as Caitlin or Catriona.
Romantic figures? Well, Tudor marriage, for example, had a lot more to do with power games and the need to secure the line, but Henry viii had three wives called variously, Catherine (of Aragon), Catherine Howard and Kathryn Parr. The job description was fabulous, but the working conditions became insupportable and the severance arrangements often brutal.
Saints did little better. There are two well known ones and a few others. St Catherine of Sienna and St Catherine of Alexandria are perhaps the best known. Close to where I live in Edinburgh there are streets named Sciennes. They are a reminder of a religious foundation dedicated to St Catherine of Sienna and now long gone.
I’ve shied away from using Catherine or its derivatives in my romances perhaps because we have so many in the family. On the other hand, it is pretty and maybe I need a Kate. Doesn’t that version have so much energy?
Are there names you avoid using in fiction?
Yes, like you, I avoid using the names of my nearest and most feared 🙂 I also avoid names that have ‘bad’ associations for me e.g. the name of a particularly difficult ex-pupil.
My daughter is Kathryn – and gets fed up having to spell it. The main character in my children’s novel (not out yet) is Caitlin – which was maybe a sub-conscious choice linked to the daughter??
Anne, particularly difficult ex-pupil might attract a sticky end? On the other hand, reduces you to the same level. But – how satisfying! go for it. Anne
I also avoid using family names for my characters. Have used Kate twice, I think. Once as one of the main protagonists, in Making it Home, and once as the daughter of the main protagonist, in Family Matters.
I’ve noticed with a short story writer that she uses the same group of names over and over. A problem when writing historicals is that the pool of names was small and so I find myself doing that a bit with the servants. I often have a footman called Matt. Bringing in a foreign relative widens the scope a bit. Anne