Celebrity Names Blog

Could 'Gone Girl' And 'The Goldfinch' Inspire A New Generation Of Gillians And Donnas?

Could 'Gone Girl' And 'The Goldfinch' Inspire A New Generation Of Gillians And Donnas?
Photo: Crown Publishing Group

It's turning out to be a great week for two of our favorite novelists. The trailer for Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, directed by David Fincher, just premiered, showing signs that the October movie will do twisted justice to the book. On Monday, Donna Tartt won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for last year's The Goldfinch.

What do these talented ladies have to do with names? First off, Flynn is doing her part to remind people that sometimes, you gotta go with the hard G. Her name is pronounced with the same sound as, well, the Gs in Gone Girl. Though Gillian is derived from the male name Julian (from the Roman Julius, "downy-bearded"), and Jillian is a more common spelling in the U.S., this alternate pronunciation has two other famous advocates: singer/songwriter Gillian Welch and Community star Gillian Jacobs. (Diehard fans of The X-Files' Gillian Anderson will probably remain on Team "Soft G," we suppose.) Jillian was much more popular in the '70s and has since waned, while Gillian peaked in 2005. Will parents with a penchant for dark humor, suspense and ambiguous heroes bring it back in style soon?

Donna, meanwhile, is one of those names that have dropped off the rankings entirely in the past two decades. This could be a backlash to its enormous popularity in previous generations --- it peaked at #8 in the 1960s. Given how the current generation is looking to their grandparents for name inspiration, we can picture the next generation picking up Donna once more.

Famous authors have long been great sources for baby name ideas. Harper Lee is the trendiest of examples for girls today. But there's also Jane (Austen), Bronte (for Emily and Charlotte), Anais (Nin), Willa (Cather) and Maya (Angelou). We're disappointed there aren't more Zoras (for Neale Hurston) in the world. Get on that, parents.

Which pronunciation of Gillian do you prefer? What are your favorite literary-inspired names for boys or girls? Share them in the comments!

- S.R.W.


Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

April 15, 2014 4:31 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My daughter is Gillian, soft G, born in 2008.

April 22, 2014 1:33 PM
By Staci (not verified)

I have a cousin named Zora. The only Zora I've ever met.

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