Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Interview with Anna of Waltzing More Than Matilda

Anna Vivian is the creative mind behind Waltzing More Than Matilda, a baby name blog from Australia that provides unique insight into the world of names.

What is your name?
Anna Vivian. Vivian is actually my confirmation name, as my original middle name was kind of a mess.

Do you have any nicknames?
In high school my nickname was Goanna, and then from that, Go-go. Apart from pet nicknames and terms of endearment from loved ones, I don't have one as an adult.

What is your ethnic background?
Australian, from a mix of New Zealander, English, Cornish, Scottish, Irish, German, Danish and American. There's a family legend of Maori ancestry, but I don't know if it's ever been proven.

What decade were you born in?

How did you get your name?
It's a variant of my mother's name, Anne. They originally considered Anneliese, but then thought it clashed with the surname, so shortened it to Anna. They tried putting the Liese part into the middle name and then adding stuff to it, but it didn't really work.

How did you feel about your name growing up?
Like many young girls, I went through a stage of wanting something more exotic, but mostly I was okay with it. When I was little, I loved the fact it was a palindrome, and despite it being common, I never went to school or university with another girl with the same name.

How do you feel about your name now?
I can't say I really love my name, but I do like it. It's a good, serviceable name, and other Annas I've met have tended to be solid, practical people, so I feel that I must have grown into it in some ways.

What are some names of your family members?
My dad is called James (he goes by Fred), and my sister is Mariana (yes they used another Anna-type name!). My brothers are Edward (Eddie) and Philip (Bear).

If you have any kids, what are their name(s)?
One has a popular classic name, and the other a less-common vintage name. If you think Victoria and Florence you will have some idea of the style.

What is the name of your best friend?

What are some common names for your age group?
Women: Michelle, Lisa, Melissa, Sarah, Karen, Natalie, Fiona, Danielle, Megan, Vanessa, Rachel.
Men: David, Michael, Andrew, Paul, Daniel, Damian, Bradley, Justin, Brett, Luke, Nathan, Ashley.

If you had to give yourself a new first name, what would it be?
I actually think Alice would rather suit me, and although not common for my age group, it's not too unbelievable either. (It was in the 200s when I was born).

Are people ever confused about your name?
Sometimes people mishear it as Anne, Hannah or Emma, especially on the phone. A neighbour kept calling me Tina; I don't know where she got that from.

Would you suggest someone give your name to a new baby?
If they really loved it, I wouldn't discourage them, because it's a classic and does wear well. I have actually had a baby named after me, and she seems happy with her name so far (she's eight now).

Of the kids you've met most recently, which are your favorites and least favorites?
One of my friends just had a baby and named her Cynthia Rose, I think that's sweet, and I met brothers named Casper and Otto, which struck me as an awesome sibset. I heard a boy named Tosh; I can only think of the slang term, where "tosh" means "nonsense".

What are your favorite names at the moment?
Girls – Allegra, Clementine, Cordelia, Cressida, Jemima, Olive, Saskia.
Boys – Alastair, Ari, Bede, Digby, Jago, Monty, Rafael nn Rafe.
(These are all names my husband has crossed off name lists, so I feel safe sharing!)

What advice would you give expecting parents looking for the perfect name?
Take your time and remain calm, it's not a decision to be rushed through or conducted frivolously. I think that too many parents feel limited by "name rules" they impose on themselves, and I would rather they followed their hearts than some arbitrary system of rules. No name that you and your partner sincerely love, chosen out of love for your child, could ever be a bad choice. 


Anna ranked at #38 in the U.S. in 2011, and other variants ranked as well: Ana, Ann, Anne, Annie, Annabel, Annabelle, Anabel, Annabel, Annabella, Anabella, and Annabell. It is popular world-wide. Anna is of Hebrew origin, meaning "grace, gracious" as a Latin variant of Hannah. One of the earliest known namesakes was the sister of Dido, the queen of Carthage, who appeared in the Aeneid by Virgil, and later in Ovid's Fasti. Ovid's character was known as Anna Perenna, a Roman goddess linked to both Mars and Janus, after becoming a water nymph. In the Bible, she was a woman and prophetess who saw the infant Jesus presented at a temple in Jerusalem. Her name is also well known from Anna Karenina, the novel by Leo Tolstoy. Saint Anna was the mother of the Virgin Mary. It has been a perennial favorite for centuries.

Vivian ranked at #154, while Viviana was at #462. It has ranked in the U.S. every year since records began being kept in 1880. Vivian has her own mythological, literary and religious stories. This Latin lovely meaning "lively" is also a female saint's name (Latin, Bibiana), and male saint's name, but has only been common since the 19th century. In Le Morte d'Arthur, the King Arthur tales by Sir Thomas Malory, Vivian was the name of the Lady of the Lake. She is known as Nimue in other stories, and known for being the mistress of Merlin. Alfred, Lord Tennyson chose to spell her name Viviane. Vivian is thrown Arthur's sword Excalibur as he is dying, and then some ladies in black hoods (including Morgan le Fay) take Arthur to his grave in Avalon. The name has been used for boys in England and Australia, but as Anna points out in the comments below, once Vivienne was used in "Gone with the Wind," it abruptly sounded to feminine. The root, vivere, meaning "to live," is also found in plenty of words, such as vital and vivid.

Thanks again to Anna, a great interview with some great advice. Be sure to check out her blog!


  1. Thanks for the interview, Cristina, and for profiling both my names.

    There is a male St Vivian too, from France. Vivian was a man's name in Australia too, until "Gone with the Wind" was released with Vivienne Leigh. Even though it was spelled differently, that made Vivian seem instantly "girly".

    I'll go post a link to this on my blog now! :)

  2. You're welcome, and thanks so much for your time. I should probably edit the part above where I said Vivian was used for boys in England, to reflect it's usage in Australia too. I wish I knew more about names world-wide. I had no idea before this interview that it had been used for boys, but now that I see that, it only seems logical.

  3. I know what you mean; whenever I read about names in continental Europe, I often feel completely lost!

  4. Great interview. It's odd that, although I don't know Anna personally, I can really see her being an Alice. But she has a lovely name. Anna Vivian is very elegant and timeless.