15 of the Best Words That Rhyme (or Almost Rhyme) with ‘People’

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)

It’s often said there aren’t any rhymes for the word ‘orange’. But in fact, there are barely any full rhymes for the word ‘people’, and let’s face it, the word ‘people’ is far more common and far more useful. Other colours than orange are available (indeed, for many centuries it wasn’t even used as the name for a colour, hence the glaringly inaccurate term ‘robin redbreast’), but how else can we talk about those members of the human race, to which so many of our family members belong?

Read more

10 First Names That Have Their Origins in Literature

The origins of 10 popular given names in the writings of famous authors

Literature has given us many – well, many given names. Popular first names have been created specially for novels or plays, and have become established as names for thousands if not millions of people born ever since. Here are ten Christian names which we owe to literature, either because they were invented or, at the very least, greatly popularised by writers. Writers from Shakespeare to Oscar Wilde have been responsible for creating or popularising first names, and although not all of them are hugely popular (there aren’t as many Dorians in the world, for instance, as there are Richards), they have nevertheless had an afterlife beyond the literary character who was the first to bear them.

Vanessa. The man who gave us Gulliver’s Travels (and, quite possibly, a treatise on human excrement) also gave us this girls’ name. Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) came up with it as a pet name for his friend and lover Esther Vanhomrigh, by taking the ‘Van’ from her surname and altering her given name into ‘essa’. A new name was born. It appears in Swift’s poem Cadenus and Vanessa, written in 1712.

Pamela. Sir Philip Sidney came up with the name Pamela in his vast prose work Arcadia, which is sometimes regarded as one of the first English novels. The name Pamela means ‘all sweetness’.

Read more

Five Reasons Everyone Should Know George Meredith

One of the things we like to do at Interesting Literature is find authors who aren’t as celebrated as they perhaps should be, and find some reasons why they should be better known, if not more widely read. A perfect case in point is George Meredith (1828-1909), the Victorian poet and novelist. Although he was popular … Read more

Ten More Words We Got from Literature

Our previous post, on ‘Ten Words We Got from Literature’, was so popular with readers that we have decided to write a sequel. We had several great suggestions from readers which we’ve incorporated into this list. As with the previous post, we’re interested only in words which have a definite origin in a literary work.

Read more

Some Literary Facts in Honour of World Book Night

Today, 23 April, is World Book Night (sometimes known, confusingly, as World Book Day). It is also the birthday (according to convention; nobody knows for sure) of William Shakespeare, and also the date on which he died, in 1616. On different calendars, Miguel de Cervantes (author of Don Quixote) and William Wordsworth also died on … Read more