14 APRIL 1973, Page 28

Literary names

Sir, I read with interest Benny Green's piece What's in a name? (April 7) but failed to understand his rather violent objections to Sir Walter Scott's nomenclature. The samples he gives us seem harmless enough compared, say, to the facetious contrivances of Dickens. For instance, what on earth can one complain of in Sigismond Biederman (both common enough names)?

On the other hand, Mr Green regrets that the subject of his review, Everyman's Dictionary of Fictional Characters, does not include the creations of Beachcomber (J. B. Morton). I myself yield to none in my admiration of Morton's work, not only as a humorous columnist but as an historian and a novelist. In company with the late composer Hermann Finck, I would stoutly defend Hag's Harvest (published 1933) as the funniest book in the language. Nevertheless, I think that most of Beachcomber's admirers would admit that he constantly over-reached himself in the fabrication of ' funny ' names (Foulenough, Cocklecarrot, Chuckusafiva etc.) and the gems Mr. Green offers us must be among his very worst. There is one honorable exception, though, in my own favourite: The Reverend Arthur Ennimore-Emtys.

In alluding to Kipling, Mr Green might with more point have instanced his addiction to unusual names (e.g. Verschoyle Horringe, Pinecoffin etc.). More than one critic has asked: did he invent or collect them? I am inclined to the latter theory, having over the past thirty years encountered in real life nearly every one!

James Broch Old Angel, Woodhill, Stoke St. Gregory, Taunton.