Is she hopelessly musty or an undiscovered gem?
Thanks to Sara for suggesting Enid as Name of the Day.
Unlike Gertrude or Mildred, Enid was never popular. You might have a Great Aunt Enid, but even in her peak year – 1920 – she was bestowed upon just 216 newborns. She’s been out of the US rankings entirely since 1954.
If fellow 1920s favorites like Alice and Ruby are ready for revival, why not this name?
The Welsh eneit meant purity or soul. As a name, Enid first appears in Arthurian legend, where she’s the wife of a knight named Geraint. After they wed, Enid’s groom frets that his commitment to noble work is compromised by his marriage. Geraint announces he’s undertaking a perilous journey. She insists on riding shotgun, and proves her loyalty – as well as demonstrating that he can be a hero and a husband. Chrétien de Troyes called the pair Erec and Enide. Alfred, Lord Tennyson included their story in Idylls of the King.
The most notable bearer is twentieth century childrens author Enid Blyton, creater of Noddy, a little wooden resident of Toyland. You can see him on TV around the world. While some of her other works have not aged as gracefully, she’s still among the most-translated authors of all time. (Blyton comes in behind Agatha Christie, but comfortably ahead of Charles Dickens.)
- Writer Enid Bagnold, author of National Velvet;
- Silent movie star Enid Bennett, remembered for her 1922 role as Maid Marian opposite Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood;
- Character actress Enid Kent is best remembered as Nurse Bigelow on M*A*S*H;
- Enid Lyons was the wife of Prime Minister of Australia, Joseph Lyons, and later became the first woman elected to the Australian House of Representatives.
A number of more recent uses that might make Enid attractive to modern parents:
- Today’s expectant mothers probably grew up reading the Sweet Valley High series of tween/teen soap-operas-in-novella form, centered on twin sisters Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Enid and Liz were BFFs for most of the series’ 181 books, as well as prequels, sequels and the television series;
- The Barenaked Ladies recorded “Enid” back in 1992. I don’t know the backstory, but it seems like a sweet little tale of first love – and first heartbreak;
- A minor character in Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four series wears the name;
- Cult classic comic Ghost World is about friends Enid Coleslaw and Rebecca Doppelmeyer. No superheros here – it is something of a Catcher in the Rye, updated for the 1990s, with Enid as Holden. In a 2001 big screen adaptation, Thora Birch played Enid, with Scarlett Johannson as Rebecca;
- Back to Enid Blyton at the end – Helena Bonham Carter played the author in a recent biopic for BBC.
She also sounds quite close to the quickly-rising spiritual/geographic/starbaby pick Eden, though stylistically they’re miles apart.
If you worry that Hazel and Esther no longer seem daring, Enid might be unusual enough to satisfy. She’s granny chic and, especially with that Ghost World reference, has plenty of indie cred.
And still, Enid feels like slightly more of a stretch than some other unusual choices. Perhaps she’s too frills free. I leave it to you, dear readers – would she work on a daughter in 2009?