We are 6 weeks away from my first baby. He's a boy. Our last name is Wren, and both of our first names start with T (so we are avoiding names that start with T or an R sound).
We've pretty much got a favourite first name (Aldous), though the Very Short List also includes Mortimer, Malcolm and Kieran. What we really like about Aldous is that it doesn't show up on any 'popular name' lists (I'm keeping an eye on the American list and also the British Columbia, Canada list). While he's not in my top ten writers of all time, I like Aldous Huxley the writer (I'm an English teacher) and we both very much like the printer Aldus Manutius (for whom the totally decent font, Aldus, is named), who basically invented the idea of cheap books and the modern use of the semi-colon (I live for stylish semi-colon use). This brings us to question 1: Which spelling? Does it matter? I feel like they'll be pronounced a little differently.
Question 2: We have no ideas for a middle name. We have spent months and months and months on the first name, and now we only have 6 weeks to figure out a whole other name! Our Short List for first names also included: Douglas, Lloyd, Milo, Merlin, Casius, Xavier, Quincey. We are tempted to just use one of them for the middle name (well, except Aldous Douglas - that seems like a bit much). But we're open to any suggestions on this, as we aren't really attached to any of the non-Aldous names, we just think they sound nice. We're also thinking we'd like to avoid a one-syllable middle name as 2-1-1 seems choppy to us. We don't have any family or city names we'd like to use for the middle name. We've searched for sibling names for Aldous to give us ideas, but it's so not popular that it's hard to find suggestions! (Though, with regard to potential actual siblings, we personally think it goes with lots of names, and names we like, so we're not fretting that one.)
Thank you for your blog! Just reading through your comments and suggestions, even for names we wouldn't want to consider, is really helpful in pointing out possible pitfalls or things to think about.
I started by looking up how to pronounce Aldous, just to make sure. Even after looking it up (Howjsay Aldous) (Howjsay Aldous Huxley), I can see how pronunciation would vary by region and by individual: some would go more for a call-me-Al pronunciation, and some would go for more of an all-out-in-free pronunciation; some would go for more of a dust-without-the-D, and some would blend that with more of an "ooo" sound. The Oxford Dictionary of First Names says it's like awl-dus. I think I'd say Aldous with a slightly longer second syllable than Aldus---though with repetition and familiarity, I suspect I'd say both the same.
For spelling, if I had no personal preference between the two (I might prefer Aldous, because the Aldus spelling brings Albus Dumbledore to my mind), I'd be inclined to choose based the association I preferred. It sounds to me like you prefer Aldus Manutius to Aldous Huxley, but that both spellings have nice tie-ins to your lives and would work well.
(I was discussing the question with my mother this morning, and she wondered if you might be interested in the name Huxley. Huxley Wren. Huck Wren has a bit of a Huck Finn sound!)
For the middle name, I think you're on the right track to look at your finalist/short lists. I suggest seeing if there are any names on the list that you wouldn't want to use for future children if Aldus were selected for the first child. Kieran, for example, is a different style and is also a little awkward with the surname (almost keer-ren-ren); if choosing Aldus would kick it out of the future runnings, it would make a very nice middle name: Aldus Kieran Wren. (I would also see if there were any names MORE likely to be used for future siblings if Aldus were chosen, and put them protectively aside.)
I like the 2-1-1 rhythm; I always admire it on Robin Wright Penn, for example. (I even like 1-1-1, like Frank Lloyd Wright.) So Aldous Lloyd Wren looks good to me. But such things are highly subjective: I also like 2-2-2 rhythms, and I've heard others say they avoid them at all costs. So if we're avoiding 2-1-1, I particularly like Aldous Malcolm Wren, Aldous Xavier Wren, and Aldous Quincy Wren.
Or are there any names you considered during the naming process but had to reject for reasons that wouldn't matter in the middle name slot? For example, were there T-names or R-names you loved but had to cross off the list because you were avoiding them? Those might be good middle-name candidates. (Though perhaps not Theodore because of Albus Dumbledore again.)
Let's have a poll over to the right to choose a spelling (this can be helpful no matter which way it comes out, since hopes/disappointments can show you which one was your own preference), and then in the comments section let's have more talk of middle names (as well as reasons for choosing a particular spelling). [Poll closed; see results below.]
Name update! T. writes:
Thank you so much for your help, and to all of the commenters for theirs!
We decided to go with Aldus, because of our greater excitement over Aldus Manutius. We'll risk the Albus confusion - he's a nice reference, too.
And for the middle name, we talked a lot about a 'T' name. When I first mentioned it, my partners eyes lit up, and he exclaimed "Tiberious!" Now, obviously this presented a rhyming issue, it didn't work with our new criteria that the middle name be plain and common (in case he hates his unusual first name), but the real reason I vetoed was that it's a Star Trek reference. And that's just a step too far (for me, anyway). We ended up abandoning the 'T' and revisited our finalists for the first name. My favourite was Douglas, but I also felt it was a bit rhymey with Aldus. So I suggested Doug (thank you all for your 2-1-1 support!). My partner objected at first, saying it sounded like a friendly guy sitting in the middle of his name... as in Aldus Doug 'hi there!' Wren. Aldus Doug 'that's me!' Wren. I'm not sure how that was supposed to discourage me. Suffice to say, we went with Doug.
I love his name so much! Thank you for all the suggestions and guidance.