As promised, double-barreled names. Or, to put it more accurately, names that should not be double barreled.
Reminder: all rants are personal and utterly biased. If you have a double-barreled name, read on at your own risk.
Some poor folks are ancestrally burdened with names that will never fit on an application form. Take one of Scotland's old families, the Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpes. Triple-barreled. Mmm. You'd feel sorry for them if they weren't so rich. Interestingly, they inherited the Gough-Calthorpe part of their name along with a pile of money in the 1800s. Gough-Calthorpe on its own is an application form challenge, however, so I think we must forgive the current generation their outstandingly pretentious name on the grounds that they had no choice in the matter. And respect the daughter of the family, who while trying to make it as an actress, has dropped two of the three names. Sensible lass.
Clever readers, as you all are, will, I'm sure have noticed the use of the word 'pretentious' in the above paragraph. Yes, that is the emotion double-barreled names evoke in the Furbrain. Within the wondrous shores of that land known as Britain, a great many double-barreled names belong to the upper class. That doesn't greatly bother me. Their names are ancient and have often been created as part of marriage deals or financial settlements many centuries ago. Sometimes it indicated that a woman had married beneath her. Now they're stuck with them.
Times have changed, however. What sets my pretensionometer blaring is when people choose to double barrel their names. None of the reasons often cited work for me:
1. 'Well my husband has a very common surname, so we thought if we used both our names it might make it more distinctive.'
The Koala solution: use your name, let him use your name, better yet, don't marry him at all.
2. 'I wanted to keep my maiden name.'
Go right ahead. Keep it. Don't use his nasty patriarchal name at all. In fact, don't marry him.
3. 'I wanted to keep my maiden name and use his name too.'
Go right ahead. We have these handy slots known as 'middle names'. Or, don't marry him.
4. 'I wanted my kids to share my maiden name.'
See answers to 1, 2 and 3 above. Look, just don't marry him. End of problem.
I will, graciously, make one exception. If a child wants to use his/her family name, as well as that of a step-parent, then that's the child's decision and it's a good way to honour all parents. Only if it's the child's decision, though and said child has been thoroughly warned about the pitfalls of application forms.
And so, on to the connection with writing (yes, there is one!). Had you noticed how many writers, particularly female writers, use double-barreled names either with or without hyphen?
Ladies, it is unnecessary. What's more, it is one of the many, admittedly personal and largely senseless reasons, why I will not take your book off the shelf. Georgette Tingle Bingle, you would be unique under either name. Portia Piffleton Prune, likewise. Jane Smith, I have some sympathy for you, but with everybody else fancying up their names like Christmas trees, why not keep it simple? You might find you are the only one. And I might buy your book.