Twi-hard parents revamp baby names
Just when you thought vampire mania couldn't get any worse, it appears that the massively popular Twilight series is creating a whole new generation of Bellas, Edwards and Emmetts.
The teen saga by Stephenie Meyer is so popular that Twi-hard parents are naming their children after characters in the books, says the CEO of babynames.com, Jennifer Moss.
"Each era has one or more great literary romances that have an impact on popular culture... but the only other work I can think of that has had this effect is Shakespeare's," she says.
The Twilight franchise follows the story of 17-year-old Bella Swan, a mortal girl who falls in love with the brooding vampire Edward Cullen.
The four books have sold over 70 million copies worldwide and the series has been described as the biggest publishing phenomenon since Harry Potter.
The name Isabella is currently the second most common name for girls in the United States, having risen five places since the books were first published, according to the US Social Security Administration.
Moss attributes this to the success of Twilight, noting that Bella – a short form of Isabella – didn't even rate in the top 200 before the books were published.
In Australia, Isabella is currently ranked the most popular girls name in the Northern Territory and is in the top ten of every state except Tasmania.
Edward, Alice and Emmett – names of members of the Cullen clan – have all reached the top 100 list on babynames.com.
Moss said she first noticed the emerging pattern in 2008, which saw the release of both Breaking Dawn, the final volume in the saga, and the first film.
"People were rushing to read the series before the movie, so it was very much in the mass-consciousness" she says.
Co-chair of the Pop Culture Association, Patrick McAleer, says the Twilight names give new parents a contemporary marker for their children – without being too outrageous.
"They have a sense of normalcy and acceptability that say, Legolas or Hermione do not carry," he says.
Meyer, the mother of three boys, called the character Isabella because it was the name she wanted to give her own daughter. Edward is named after Mr Rochester from Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre.
High school teacher Corinna Noble of Sylvania in Sydney's south has a three year old daughter named Isabella, or Bella for short.
She says she and her husband chose the name because they had always liked it.
"The series might be at the forefront of everybody's minds at the moment but I don't think the books will still be as big as they are now when Bella's a teenager. I don't think people will make the connection then," she says.