The most famous bearer is a fictional girl who went chasing rabbits, but today she’s being given to more and more real girls, too.
Thanks to Nessa for suggesting our Name of the Day: Alice.
Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland was published in 1865. At the time, Alice was well established:
- The girl who inspired Carroll’s stories was named Alice Liddell.
- Queen Victoria called her third child, born in 1843, Alice Maud Mary. It is said that Lord Melbourne, mentor and later prime minister to the queen, suggested the appellation.
- It had been in use among aristocratic families dating back to the Middle Ages, when it was worn by royals in Cyprus and Antioch.
- Alice was also the name of US President Theodore Roosevelt’s wife and firstborn daughter.
She was a Top Ten sensation in the nineteenth century, and remained in the US Top 25 into the 1930s.
Then along came Alice alternatives, and into the 1990s, names like the tailored Allison, the romantic Alyssa and Alicia and even the cutesy Allie all sounded more current.
After all, a generation of parents grew up with two Alices on television: the housekeeper on The Brady Bunch and the waitress in Alice. There was also Arlo Guthrie’s 1967 song “Alice’s Restaurant” and, in the 1970s, the theatrical rock star Alice Cooper – born Vincent.
No wonder then, that in the 1990s, she ranked in the 400s, and seemed headed for obscurity. But in the early 2000s, Alice started to climb. In 2009, she ranked #258. By 2012, Alice stood at #127 – her most popular since the 1950s.
Some of the credit goes to 30 Rock’s Tina Fey, who named her daughter Alice Zenobia in 2005.
She’s also rich in history. All of the Alice names trace back to the Germanic Adalheid, and all of her many variants:
- There was a tenth century Saint Adelaide, and later a nineteenth century queen.
- Aleydis and Alix were both worn by a thirteenth century saint. Alix was the given name of the future last Empress of Russia, Alexandra.
- Alys and Alaïs can be found on a twelfth century French princess.
- Other languages favored Aliz, Ailis and Adelaida.
- Unusual nicknames include Elke, Heidi and Aleit.
Creative and talented women have worn the name in recent years. Actress Ali McGraw is an Alice. There’s silent film star and Oscar winner Alice Brady. Writers include Alice Sebold, Alice Walker and Alice Hoffman. Alice Munro won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature.
She’s a suffragette name, too.
Perhaps her strongest selling point is the enduring Lewis Carroll tale. The literary original has inspired many an adaptation, from Disney’s 1951 classic, to Tim Burton’s 2010 re-imagining. You’ll find the Mad Hatter’s spinning tea cups at every Disney park. She’s a familiar heroine world-wide.
If you’re looking for an easily recognized name with plenty of history, feminine but frills-free, Alice should appeal. The literary and Disney associations are a nice touch, but this one would still feel both gentle and strong without the fictional character. She could be an appealing substitute for Ella or Emma, Abigail or Grace – though she’s on track to be just as popular in a few more years.