• When Judy Blume received the news that her first picture book, The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo, was going to be published, she went into her son’s playroom and started throwing a plaything called Silly Sand around. She also picked up her son, Larry, and her son’s playmate, Laurie Murphy, and spun them around. Unfortunately, this made Laurie cry. Ms. Blume says, “She went home and told her mother that Larry’s mother had gone crazy.”
• Author Alice Walker attended Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. When she went away to attend that school, her mother, Minnie Tallulah, gave her three gifts: a typewriter, a suitcase, and a sewing machine. Alice regarded the gifts as symbols of independence, and as symbols of love. Her mother worked for only $20 a week, and to pay for the three gifts she had saved for years.
• Artists and writers must be creative. St. Louis cartoonist Sacha Mardou once wrote and illustrated an erotic comic in which a woman seduced a man who was blind. This worried her mother, who was afraid that the comic was autobiographical. Ms. Mardou says, “When I told her I had made all that stuff up, she thought it was genius. She was also very relieved.”
• E.B. “Andy” White picked up his nickname while attending Cornell University. The President of Cornell at the time was Andrew D. White, and students gave the nickname “Andy” to any student with the last name “White.” E.B. much preferred Andy to his real first name: Elwyn. Names were important to Andy. In his book Charlotte’s Web, he was going to name the spider Charlotte Epeira after the Latin name for the Grey Cross spider, but he took a closer look at the spiders in his barn and discovered that they were a different species. Therefore, he changed the name to Charlotte A. Cavatica.
• Marvel Comics maven Stan Lee has a terrible memory, so when he creates a new character, as a memory device he will have both the first and last names of the same character begin with the same letter. That way, if he can remember one of the names of the character, he will know at least that the other name begins with the same letter. These are some of the names of characters he has created: Bruce Banner, Peter Parker, Matt Murdock, and Stephen Strange.
• Jane Austen, author of Sense and Sensibility, never married, although she was engaged once — briefly. Still, when she was a young teenager, she tore a sheet from the parish register of her father the clergyman. On it, she wrote some imagined possible names of her future husband: Edmund Arthur William Mortimer, of Liverpool, and Henry Frederick Howard Fitzwilliam, of London. Jane being Jane, of course, one name was humorous: Jack Smith.
• When he was four years old, C.S. Lewis, the author of the Narnia Chronicles, took a big step toward independence by announcing that he had a new name: Jacksy. His parents and brother went along with the new name, which was later shortened to Jacks, and still later shortened to Jack, the nickname that he kept for the rest of his life.
• Some children ask funny questions. Children’s book author Ann M. Martin, creator of the Babysitters Club series of books, was at a book signing when a young girl asked her, “Do you know what the ‘M.’ in your name stands for?” (By the way, it stands for Matthews.)
• Author Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of The Scarlet Letter, used to be named Hathorne, but because one of his ancestors was John Hathorne, a justice at the Salem Witch Trials which resulted in the deaths of 20 people, he changed his name.
• G.K. Chesterton named his pet Scotch terrier “Quoodle” after a character in one of his early novels so that when people asked about the unusual name, he could tell them about his novel.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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