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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)


The list below shows Durham University research staff who are members of IMEMS. Click the member's name to see a more detailed biography and department.

We also welcome anyone from outside the University with an interest in our work to join. Membership is free of charge. You will receive invitations to our programme of events, with a weekly emails digest about what is happening in the Insitute and further afield. To join IMEMS contact:

Publication details for Dr Sara L. Uckelman

Uckelman, Sara L., Murphey, Sonia & Percer, Joseph (2017). What's in a Name? History and Fantasy in Game of Thrones. In Game of Thrones versus History: Written in Blood. Pavlac, Brian A. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell. 241-250.

Author(s) from Durham


Nowhere is the border between history and fantasy more blurred than in people's perceptions of names. People often assume that names in modern fantasy stories are medieval in origin. Some fault for this assumption can be laid at the feet of the Father of Fantasy, J.R.R. Tolkien, because many of his names are in fact genuine medieval names, and many of those which are not are explicitly marked out as such, originating in his constructed Elvish languages. A natural conclusion then is that fantasy names which are not otherwise identified as fantasy are plausibly medieval. This chapter discusses names in the Game of Thrones books and television series, and shows that this conclusion is not warranted. It considers not only the historicity of individual name elements, but also the patterns of the complete names, and their similarity to medieval naming patterns and practices.