Names of the World. Why ?

The idea

Back around the year 2000 I had a great idea for a reference book for writers so I contacted Writer’s Digest Books with a proposal. They replied, agreeing it was a good idea but they had decided to contact the author of a similar book and suggest that book be updated. So much for the world of publishing.

Rant: The world of publishing

I had spent many years submitting manuscripts to publishers only to receive similar responses. Everyone who replied to a submission told me I was a promising/good/talented writer, but always had a reason for not accepting my novel. Either they weren’t publishing that particular subject at the moment, or their quota for the year was filled, and so on.

I watched as big publishers gradually disappeared, swallowed up by mega corporations who were more interested in making money than in art. Dozens of small presses went out of business. One became used to seeing bookstores and the New York Times Bestseller list filled with books that established authors churned out by the dozen. Safe predictable stories that they knew would sell. It was not a good time to become a writer.


I started researching the feasibility of getting an agent, but most of the big agencies would only represent previously published writers. Publishers would only accept manuscripts from agented writers; agents only accepted published writers! What was a poor writer to do? I’m an introvert; I don’t like to be pushy and persistent. This may be my downfall.  Realizing that marketing is not my forte, I became so discouraged. I almost gave up.

I’ve written (completed) ten novels and two reference books, but I am still a “new writer” and publishers don’t like to take chances with new writers. But I still slog on, working on new novels, endeavoring to produce the most interesting, best-written book I can. The process of writing is the joy.

Back to the name book

I decided to go on with it as the subject had engaged my interest and besides, it was a challenge. I spent the next three years doing the research and putting it all together. I was fortunate to be living in the Vancouver region at the time and had access to scores of public libraries. I spent a lot of time in library reference sections making notes then I went online to see what I could find there. The book’s bibliography is a page and a half long. It has 600 pages, contains more than 90,000 names from 140 countries and ethnic groups, and four appendices providing supplementary information.


One example of the research that went into this name collection is in Irish and Scottish Gaelic names, where the clumsy English adaptations that are currently used are compared with the original Gaelic. These sections also give a few guidelines to Gaelic pronunciation.


Once I had compiled all the data and typed all ninety thousand names, I spent several months formatting the manuscript—a complicated process in itself. Finally I chose a title: Names of the World.NamesFC


In case you are one of those people who never bother to read introductions because they are usually too long and often not very interesting, I’ve split this up into small segments from which you may pick and choose as you wish.

This book is…

A book of personal names from all over the world, both surnames (family names), and given names.

It is not…

A baby name book and does not give the meanings of names.

Who is it for?

  • It is a handy reference for fiction writers and creators of role-playing games.
  • It can be used by genealogists and people tracing their ancestry.
  • A good source of interesting and original names for a new baby.
  • A resource for anyone who is fascinated by the incredible variety of names and naming traditions throughout the world.

My original purpose when I started to compile this collection of names was to provide a reference for fiction writers who wanted to use international characters in their stories. I wanted to fill a gap that was glaringly obvious in the other name books I studied—that is, they were limited in scope to only a few areas of the world, chiefly Europe. I wanted to make it a comprehensive reference of names from every country in the world and also include many ethnic sub-groups such as the Basque and Welsh peoples.


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