Writers You’ve Heard of & Their Tough Writer Decisions

17 Famous Literary Characters Almost Named Something Else
by Stacy Conradt

“Bladorthin the Grey” just doesn’t have the same ring to it as “Gandalf the Grey,” does it? Good thing J.R.R. Tolkien decided to do some name swapping. Turns out he’s in good company: here’s the story of Gandalf and other famous characters who experienced an identity change before publication.

1. The only Pevensie child who escaped from the first drafts of the Chronicles of Narnia series with his name intact was Peter. In an early version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Peter is the youngest child – not the oldest – and his siblings are Ann, Martin and Rose…

3. Bladorthin the Grey? Yeah, not so much. But that seems to have been J.R.R. Tolkien’s original thinking. In pencilled notes on early drafts of The Hobbit, Tolkien noted that “Gandalf” was the name of the chief dwarf and “Bladorthin” was, of course, the great wizard. After the author decided to switch the names around, Bladorthin became the name of a dead king who is mentioned just once in all of Tolkien’s prolific writings…

4. Philip Marlowe is one of the toughest private eyes ever created, so you might agree that naming him “Mallory” may not have done justice to his ruggedness. Raymond Chandler originally wanted to pay homage to English author Sir Thomas Malory, but got points with his wife when he listened to her opinion that “Marlowe” was the better name…

17. Little Orphan Annie was nearly Little Orphan Otto, until Harold Gray’s publisher at the newspaper syndicate suggested his character looked more female than male and told him to stick a skirt on it.

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We just discovered this site and are totally psyched. Not only is Mental Floss jammed with arcane info, what a sensational name.