The Axe by Penelope Fitzgerald

Singlebury.  W.S. Singlebury, in his, ‘…grey trousers of man-made material … and a fawn cardigan’ is to be made redundant.’  Perfect.  How did Penelope Fitzgerald settle on the name Singlebury?  Perhaps she knew someone with that name, who shared his pathetic yet menacing characteristics.  The name works.  Mr. Hilditch in William Trevor’s Felicia’s Journey is from the same mould – the writer who can encapsulate a character with a name.

Names have always fascinated me.  There is so much that is random about our circumstance, but our names are not.  They have been chosen, invariably.  The question of what a newborn child has been called is usually followed by an elongated, ‘Ahh!’ as the name begins to penetrate the unknowing limbs and fashions are refashioned.  It is very easy to criticise modern trends – Chardonnay, Chelsea and Chase but the Victorians had their fashions too – Clyde, Clifton and Coy.


There are ‘tricks’ to finding names for characters etc


Thomas Rudston



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