Yes, Juliet, A Name Makes Plenty Difference
by Reg Green
I mentioned in an OUCH! paragraph a few weeks ago the pleasure I got from reading that the monumental Henry James, as a young man, was called by his neighbors ‘Harry James’ (like the big band trumpet player, lecher, drinker and gambler.) Likewise, the impenetrably austere T.S. Eliot was once ‘Tom’ to his friends. Both emperors still had a few clothes on but for once both sounded downright human. This week I came across another in an essay by Edmund Wilson: Waddy Longfellow!
All we need now is for a parchment to turn up spilling the beans on the teenage Jackie Milton or Billy Shakespeare.
PS Our editor reminds me that Wilson himself was known to friends as ‘Bunny.’ He must have been charmed when Vladimir Nabokov, newly arrived in this country and looking for help, addressed him that way but I imagine him writhing about it later as Nabokov continued to use it while gradually but unstoppably asserting a cold dominance over him in their extensive exchange of letters.