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Vitamin Q: the book!

~ Thursday, May 15, 2003

Some curious name trivia:


Jif cleaning products changed their name to Cif
Marathon chocolate bar changed its name to Snickers
Immac hair remover products have recently been rebranded as Veet
Opal Fruits sweets meekly became Starburst
Mr Dog food for small dogs became the regal sounding Cesar
Oil of Ulay face cream pushed out the boat and daringly became Oil of Olay
Gravy and sauce firm Knorr seems to change its name to Knorr (with the K sounded) every few years to fox the public
Despite years with Name Change Coming Soon on the packets, deep-frozen 'canap├ęs' Crispy Pancakes have decided not to bother with the deed poll


Sometimes pseudonyms cover more than one person. Ellery Queen, the detective writer, was actually two cousins, Frederic Dannay and Manfred B Lee. The name Carolyn Keene has been used by a number of writers who have penned the adventures of girl detective Nancy Drew over the years. The name Nicolas Bourbaki was (and continues to be) used by a group of French mathematicians for publications since the 1930s. The mystery novels of Emma Lathen are actually written by two friends, Mary J Latsis and Martha Henissart. Similarly, the name of the 'author' M Barnard Eldershaw, an Australian novelist and feminist was a composite of its two inventors, Marjorie Barnard and Flora Eldershaw.


The Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) had at least twenty heteronyms (multiple pseudonyms). Some of these were philosophers, prose writers, theorists, pen-pals, and all alter egos. These creations would be each other's supporters, critics and influences. Three of Pessoa's heteronyms wrote poetry of high quality - Alberto Caeiro, Ricardo Reis and Alvaro de Campos - each in a different style to the others. Some of Pessoa's alter egos wrote in English (he grew up in South Africa). Other heteronyms included Bernardo Soares (a prose writer), C R Anon, Alexander Search, Dr Panacracio and Jean Seul.


My mother's mother was one of twelve Chalmers sisters:

1 Jean (nee Jeannie)
2 Aggie (Agnes)
3 Rae (Rachel)
4 Fay (Euphemia)
5 Sis (Susan)
6 Nelly (Helen)
7 May (Mary)
8 Liz (Elizabeth)
9 Anna (Annabella)
10 Belle (Isabella)
11 Nettie (Jeanette)
12 Cathy (Catherine)


The parrot in Disney's Aladdin is called Iago.
There is a parrot in the Tintin stories called Lago.
The parrot in cartoon series Cities of Gold was Kukapetl.
The parrot in Blyton's Adventure books was Kiki.
Long John Silver's parrot in Treasure Island was Captain Flint.
Dr Dolittle's loquacious and over-anxious parrot was Polynesia.
Neither Flaubert's Parrot or Monty Python's Norwegian Blue were named.


Barbara Hershey was previously named Barbara Seagull (though this was not her original name which was Herzstein)
Samuel Goldwyn's name was Samuel Goldfish (an Anglicised Jewish name)
Randolph Scott's real surname was Heron


When a director wants to disown a movie he/she has been involved with, it is credited to the name Alan Smithee.

Similarly, I have been told (by Chris Meade, head of the organisation Booktrust) that the name Chris Meade is sometimes used when an author does not want to use their real name for whatever reason. It is an anagram of Archimedes, which is somehow relevant.

When a British member of parliament wishes to resign, since this is not allowed, he/she applies for the post of Crown Steward and Bailiff for the Chiltern Hundreds or the Manor of Northstead. These posts do not really exist, but being appointed to them means that the MP has a 'paid crown post' and so is instantly removed from their parliamentary duties.

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