What’s In A Name?

I was named Kristin at my Uncle Henry’s suggestion, after the heroine of Norwegian author, Sigrid Undset’s trilogy, “Kristin Lavransdatter“.  My mother had considered naming me after her mother, Fannie, but my grandmother said that was an awful name to inflict on a child, so she didn’t.  My other grandmother, Pearl Reed Cleage, thought everybody should have a family name. In the case of my name she made an exception because it came from, she said, the best book in the world.

The name Kristin reached it’s height of popularity in the 1940s, however my health care professionals seem to be continual startled to find such an old woman with the name of Kristin. They think that only younger people have received that name.

I’ve always liked my name, even though people like to spell it with an “e” instead of an “i”.  During the late 1970s, Penguin Books came out with a new edition of the trilogy. I was stunned to read that Sigrid Undset wrote the series while raising 6 children. I was raising 4 and hardly had time to read, much less write Nobel Prize winning literature. I started trying to find out more about her life. I wrote letters to Undset experts at various universities and made connections that resulted in a 7 week trip to Norway in the summer of 1981.  I found out how she did it and I will write more about that experience in another post.

kristin cleage williams in Norway 1981
An interview with me in the Norwegian paper “Aftenposten” starts with mention of me being named after  the heroine of “Kristin Lavransdatter”. I did not do the interview in Norweigian.

I got the idea for this post from Randy Sever’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, although I didn’t do it exactly the way he described.

19 thoughts on “What’s In A Name?

  1. And what a summer that was… really I don’t remember too many details. What does the article have to say?

    1. I was afraid someone would ask. it talks about how i’m an Undset fan from Detroit and now live in MIssissippi and that I’m going to the summer school in at the University of Oslo to learn Norwegian so I can read the original Undset books (That was a flight of fancy!) I talk about wanting to see where she lived and the country the book took place in and how Undset wrote the book while raising all those kids. How I met Sister Peg and the trip happened. I can make it out, which is surprising me.

    1. I can’t really imagine being Fannie either but if I had been, I’m sure I would have felt a connection with my grandmother Fannie.

  2. Interesting. And to think I was named after a,popular soap star. Looking forward to your next post.

        1. You probably don’t have a boxed set of the series that you watch over and over, I guess. I never watched All My Children so I don’t know the character. Pearl used to have some soap on when I came home from school, high school. And I remember the same characters were still at it when I lived in Mississippi and watched before our TV was stolen and freed up all that time 😛

          1. Lol. All my a children was cancelled recently. But, yes! It is never hard to connect the storyline no matter how long of a hiatus taken between following the show. I hope my life shows more evolution. Lol hope you had a great thanksgiving.

  3. Kristin is a lovely name. Friends had the name Christine, Chrystal, don’t remember a Kristin from my group of baby boomers. My daughter have friends with the name, one spells her Christin, often been mistaken for Christine.

  4. An intriguing story Kristin and the Norwegian connection is now becoming clearer. I’ve never read those books, or indeed heard of them before and agree writing prize winning books while raising 6 kids is pretty awesome-look forward to hearing her secret. I think Kristin is a pretty name too.


  5. What an interesting story about how you got your name. And, it’s awesome how you were able to actually visit Norway. I also had never heard of these books–but they sound like something I’d enjoy reading. I’ve added them to my ‘to read’ list.

  6. Loved the name when I first heard it. One of my best friends named her daughter Kristen many years ago. I have to ask her now why she chose that name.

  7. I do love Kristin! It’s an air of excitement to it! Young and Beautiful…..My name was hard growing up. I’m hoping to live up to it’s TRUE creed! The story my Mother told me why she named is not as amusing as I would of have it. But I’m grateful!

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