Sunday, June 16, 2013

Enid

Gorgeous photo by Nika Shatova


For many girls (or maybe it's just me), there are two images of Enid in our minds. The first Enid is Enid Blyton, author of some of the most beloved children's books in the world. She brought us Noddy and Big Ears, led us to the world of the 'Faraway Tree', and together we went on adventures, uncovered secrets and solved mysteries.

The second will only be recognised by readers of the Francine Pascal series 'Sweet Valley High', which was preceded by 'Sweet Valley Twins', followed by 'Sweet Valley University' and also adapted into a TV show that aired from 1994 to 1998.  Enid Rollins was the best friend of the "sensible" twin Elizabeth, and was characterised in the books as a sweet but rather quiet and bookish girl. In the show she was given a slightly more dorky/zany portrayal.

Either way, for many Enid seemed like a name that was a little quaint, outdated, and suitable for quiet bookish types. I have to admit I never really gave it a second thought as a possible name when I was younger, as it seemed a little boring. But I have to admit to recently finding quite an attraction to the simplicity and strength of Enid.

Enid is said to derive from the Welsh word "enaid", meaning 'soul' or 'life'. This theory is further supported by the appearance of an Enid in Welsh mythology as the wife of Geraint in the Arthurian tale Geraint and Enid (also known as Erec and Enide). However it is also thought that it's possible it comes from the Latin word "enit", meaning 'woodlark'. Most often pronounced EE-nid, some prefer the pronunciation EN-id, finding the first option somewhat clunky.

Maybe it is this slightly awkward impression that has kept this name a rarity. In America it has constantly charted (been given to more than 5 girls) every year since 1888, yet has not been in the top 1000 for 60 years! It is also not listed as a popular name in any other country, including Wales. Yet there are a lot more famous Enids than one might expect. Besides the three examples above, some other famous Enids include:

  • British playwright and author Enid Bagnold, whose work included 'National Velvet'
  • Australian-American silent film actress Enid Bennett
  • Main character Enid Coleslaw of the 'Ghost World' comics, played by Thora Birch in the 2001 movie adaptation
  • Character Enid Nightshade in Jill Murphy's 'The Worst Witch' series
  • A 1992 song by the Barenaked Ladies
  • An American  town in the state of Oklahoma (named for the Arthurian Enid)

Clunky or not, I think there is a lot of affection out there for Enid. Some may find it hard to pronounce, or think it had a boring image, but it seems that plenty of people are familiar with this rarely used name. It also has a lot of versatility. I could just as easily see an Enid appearing in a period drama such as 'Downtown Abbey'; as a character in a sci-fi or future earth type scenario movie; or even as a sister to Merida in 'Brave' or Margo, Edith and Agnes in 'Despicable Me'. What do you think - is Enid ripe for a comeback?


3 comments:

  1. My grandmother from West Texas was named Enid Elizabeth. I never considered using it but after reading this post it definitely has greater appeal. Perhaps my daughter one day will discover it on our family tree and use it for her child.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I absolutely love Enid! It is near the top of my list. Thank you for this post.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete