Letter: Baby names set readers apart

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Sir: If you are playing the game of classing acquaintances in terms of what newspaper they are likely to read, it may be worth considering the names they have given their children, at least when distinguishing between readers of the Times and the Independent.

While an infant Thomas, James or Emily is as likely to have parents who read the one as the other, the list of the top 10 boys' first names given in 1992 by Independent readers contains four names not on the list of most popular names recently published in the Times, while the top 10 Independent girls' names differ in six places. The most popular Independent names, with the Times placing in brackets, were as follows:

Boys Girls

1) Thomas (1) 1) Emily (3)

2) James (2) 2) Isobel (-)

3) Oliver (5) 3) Katherine (-)

4) Edward (8) 4) Alice (9)

5) Benjamin (-) 5) Elizabeth (-)

=) William (4) =) Emma (-)

7) George (6) =) Rachel (-)

8) Alexander(3) 8) Anna (-)

9) Richard (-) 9) Charlotte (2)

10) Robert (-) 10) Sophie (1)

=) Samuel (-)

While the popular boys' names do attract a higher proportion of babies than the girls' (Thomas was given nearly twice as often as Emily), Independent readers can be pretty adventurous with boys' names, which have ranged from Alvary, Bede and Cosmo, via Jago and Mungo, to Xavier, Zachary and Zed; while the growing popularity of names from the classical world, which has been apparent in girls' names for some years, seems to have crossed over into boys' names this year, giving us Augustus, Constantine, Daedalus, Fabian, Julius, Lucius, Romulus and Titus.

Yours faithfully,



4 January

The writer is the author of 'The Bloomsbury Dictionary of First Names'.