As you probably know, Annabel Austen isn’t my real name, so I thought I’d write a few words about how I chose it.
My own name is really quite boring, almost as boring as you can get. Originally I thought my pen name should be some kind of take on my real name, and, for a long time, I was going to be Mary Brown, but then, one morning I woke up and thought no. If I became Mary Brown, I’d be throwing away my one opportunity of being something far more interesting.
So I was going to be Annabel because it was the sort of name my parents wouldn’t have given me in a million years, and I was going to be Austen as a tribute to Jane Austen, one of my favourite authors.
But then, yesterday, I was doing some research into my family history, and the name Annabel took on a whole new significance.
I know that my great great grandmother was a Hunnibell before she married, but, despite the fact that it is a comparatively unusual surname (most instances occurring in Suffolk, where she was born) I’ve had some difficulty tracing the family. So yesterday, after another fruitless session online, I decided to look up the meaning of the surname and thus prove that I’d made some progress.
One suggestion I came across is that Hunnibell comes from the Latin amabilis, meaning lovable, and that Annabel is also a corruption of amabilis. However, this isn’t the only possible derivation of Annabel: it could also be a combination of the names Ann and Belle, in which case it means “God has favoured me” plus “beautiful”.
While I like both of these possibilities, for now I’m going to favour the first one: it makes me feel closer to my ancestors, and, in some way, I feel that Annabel is now a tribute to them.