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  • Writer's pictureBridget Walsh

Where do you get your characters' names from? (three minute read)

Updated: Feb 25, 2023

My daughter, Nancy, asked me why I had chosen the name, Jane, for one of the two protagonists in my first self-published novel, “Daughters of the Famine Road.” (March 2022)

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Here are the reasons why.

When Nancy was a child, we lived in a small village in Ireland, and her very best friend in all the world was called Jane. The two were friends throughout their childhood. Even after we moved to England, their friendship continued. They were each others’ bridesmaids. The friendship lasted until Jane died suddenly of a rare brain tumour. Both Nancy and Jane were just thirty years old. I had always thought of Jane (on the right, Nancy, centre, and sister, Fran on the left), as another part of our family. She will never be forgotten.

I also saw a link to the historical character I include in the novel. She was a brilliant woman who used the name, Speranza, as a pen name. Her real name was Jane Elgee, and she was born in Wexford, Ireland. She wrote poems about the Famine and had them published in the nationalist newspaper, The Nation. Later, after she married William Wilde, she became known as Lady Jane Wilde, and was mother to two sons, one of them was Oscar Wilde.

Follow this link to an article about Jane Elgee and her work as a nationalist poet during the Irish Famine.

In conclusion: I named my character, Jane Keating, in honour and remembrance of these two wonderful women. The first, a loving friend to my daughter, and the second, a nineteenth century feminist, nationalist, poet, wife and mother.

I like to think my imagined protagonist, Jane Keating, has some of the qualities of both these women.


Thank you for your visit, while you're here, why not:

1. Read more about these fascinating characters and how I imagined their lives during the Irish Famine. Buy 'Daughters of the Famine Road,'

2. Click on Buy my book at the top of the Home page to order a personalised, signed copy.

3. Look out for the next novel in the trilogy: 'Daughters in Exile' coming in July 2022.



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