Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Butler Did It

Discussion has come up on Spenser's Sneakers about the frequent misspelling of Spenser's name. We know Parker chose the name Spenser for his detective to show a connection to Chandler's Marlowe, but I still wondered why he would choose a name so easily misspelled.

I found this page, explaining that the surname Spenser comes from the Old French despensier, meaning "steward" or "butler", and was brought to England by Norman conquerors in 1066.

Further, the Old French word for butler, bouteillier, means "bottle bearer", which fits Parker's beer-lovin' lug as well. It's possible Parker knew the name's origin and so gave Spenser his culinary talent, and yet I don't think Hawk has ever countered Spenser's racial humor with, "Your name means 'butler', you know."

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