Initial thoughts

Sir Arthur C ClarkeSo Sir Arthur C Clarke, godfather of science fiction and prophet, died this week.

One thing that always struck me was how much more interesting Mr Clarke sounded because his name had that extra ubiquitous middle initial.

Initials are amazing things – they can give boring names an air of mystery and they can depersonalize so that no-one but their friends really know them.

For example, you can understand why restaurant critic AA Gill choose to use his initials, when you discover that his name is Adrian – just doesn’t have quite the same cachet.

JK Rowling famously avoided using Jo, simply because she didn’t think she’d be taken seriously as a woman.

On the other hand, maybe the world would have taken more notice of the American president if he wasn’t known by his middle initial, Dubya. No-one made quite as much fun of his dad, George, did they?

When I first discovered that PG Wodehouse’s names were Pelham Grenville, I always wondered why he didn’t use them. How grand to have such names, but his published name does sound so much better.

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