Parents have aways named their children after current heroes and heroines (and no doubt these days an unusual number of Australian baby boys are being called Anthony after our charismatic PM). One hundred years ago this week steely Earl Kitchener was the face of the Empire's war effort. His was the famous face on recruiting posters and his noble effigy was the subject of Toby jugs, statuettes and souvenirs galore.
Patriotic "Clio" of Melbourne's Punch asked her readers "Do you know the baptismal names of Lord Kitchener?"
"Not one person in a dozen does. Horatio Herbert. Perfectly appalling names, aren't they? Shakespeare was perfectly right, you know, when he pertinently inquired, "What's in a name?" for after ail it is not the name but the man who hears it that matters most; and if Lord Kitchener bore any other names ... he would still be the most splendid figure in English history to day.
"Horatio Herbert is to be the fashionable name for boy babies this year. It is a curious medical fact that during war there are more boys born than girls, and mothers delight in choosing the name of some great soldier for their sons. And so this year the fad is in full swing. It began last week in the birth columns of a daily paper, when the announcement of the birth of a son was followed by his name in brackets (Earl Kitchener). But most mothers are quite content to drop the title, and bestow on their babies the plain names 'Horatio Herbert.' "
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