Growing Up With a Name That’s Out of the Harry Potter Books

From a Wall Street Journal story by Ellen Gamerman headlined “Growing Up With a Name That’s Out of Harry Potter”:

Hermione Marshall, a British teenager who works in a flower shop, was named after the heroine of the Harry Potter books and films. A 6-year-old in Ohio shares his name with Ollivander, the magical wandmaker from the series. Venerable wizard Albus Dumbledore has a namesake—a second-grader from Las Vegas who loves a good outer-space joke.

Parents have long named their kids after favorite characters across pop culture. “Game of Thrones” fans called their girls Daenerys (before the Mother of Dragons ruthlessly burned a city to the ground). Elsa became popular after “Frozen” came out. Now, as young readers who grew up with Harry Potter become parents themselves, they have given their children names straight out of the roll-call at Hogwarts….

Twenty years have elapsed since the first Harry Potter film made its debut and even longer since author J.K. Rowling introduced the world to tales of young witches and wizards in the first of seven novels.

The cultural impact of this fictional universe is a theme of “Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts,” an HBO Max special premiering Jan. 1. The show reunites the film’s stars—Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, who played main characters Harry, Hermione and Ron—to reminisce on the original movie sets in Leavesden, about 20 miles northwest of London.

In 2000, no U.S. birth certificate recorded the name Hermione. Last year, there were 91, according to the baby-name site Nameberry, which culls data from the Social Security Administration. Only 144 Lunas were born in 2000—a name shared by the kind-but-weird Luna Lovegood of the series—compared with 7,770 Lunas born last year.

Even the villains did well. No U.S. newborns in 2000 were named Bellatrix, a character who chases Harry Potter across several novels, but last year 21 of them were born, according to Nameberry. Also on the rise: The number of kids named Draco, best known to fans as the name of Harry’s Hogwarts nemesis Draco Malfoy, going from 15 children to 101 little Dracos last year.

Harry is popular for many reasons: Last year, 340 babies were given that name. At the top of the baby-naming market: 17,535 Olivias and 19,659 Liams, the most popular baby names of 2020, according to Nameberry.

For new generations born into a world of superhero movies and streaming platforms, Harry Potter’s ubiquity is no longer a given.

Not all the children in 7-year-old Albus Cunningham’s class are obsessed with The Boy Who Lived. The 2018 movie “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” the only film from the Harry Potter-related universe to debut in their memory, was the worst box-office performer of all the films sharing the same wizarding world.

When Albus’s parents started thinking about baby names, they were drawn to the attributes of Albus Dumbledore—his wisdom, compassion and bravery.

“Dumbledore,” however, was out of the question. “My child’s not cosplay,” said Christopher Cunningham, a magazine editor and writer in Las Vegas.

Albus said he enjoys being named after a master of spells, though some friends used to think his name was “Elvis.” Harry Potter books are fine, he said, but his real interests lie around black holes and space-themed Legos.

Harry Potter names often have histories of their own. Albus is Latin for white. Hermione appears in Greek mythology as a child of Helen of Troy and as a character in William Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale.” Luna means moon in Latin, while Bellatrix is warrior. Draco, or Drakon in ancient Greek, means dragon or serpent and is the name of a constellation of stars.

Hermiones have a particularly tough go. Some people hear “Armani,” like the designer. It is commonly mistyped as “Hermoine” in emails.

“Why would anyone name their child after a word that rhymes with ‘groin’?” asked Hermione Hoby, a 37-year-old novelist from Boulder, Colo….

Hermione Marshall, who was adopted, hasn’t learned much about her birth father, but she knows he loved the Harry Potter movies. Ms. Marshall, an 18-year-old from Chester, England, is one of nine children, and not the only one with a possible movie name. (A brother is named Kyle, from “The Terminator,” she said, referring to the film’s protagonist.)

Among her siblings, she enjoys cachet. “They’re all obsessed with my name,” Ms. Marshall said.

Ms. Langsather was pregnant when the final Harry Potter book arrived in 2007. She liked the name Hermione but didn’t want to commit until she knew that nothing horrible happened to the character at the end of the series. The book came out in July, and she and her husband each read their own copy in one night. Their daughter Hermione arrived the following month.

Ms. Langsather said her parents were unenthusiastic about a name that conjured witchcraft….

In Columbus, Ohio, Ollivander Sefel, named after the series’ silvery-eyed wand maker, Garrick Ollivander, enjoys making pipe-cleaner wands as gifts. He matches each one with its recipient. Once confused—why are all these other kids named Oliver?—the 6-year-old now embraces his name in full. Just don’t call him Ollie.

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