2014060920150310 (R4)

The girls' name Grace fell out of fashion in the1930s but has recently become very popular again. The journalist Grace Dent sets out to discover what makes her name - and the notion - so captivating, by exploring the modern state of grace.

Grace's Nan once told her she was related to real-life Victorian heroine, Grace Darling. It was the first time Grace sensed her name had enviable properties, after years of wanting to be called Joanne.

The word 'grace' is associated with more than twenty different meanings and phrases. Many are theological, but one early definition - of pleasing quality - suggests Grace has some work to do if she wants to achieve the standards inherent in her name. She's not entirely sure she does.

From Greek mythology to Grace Jones, via philosophical reasoning and a morning at The Royal Ballet, Grace reflects on the modern merits of charm, poise and elegance as she searches for inner calm and acceptance in a more secular age.

With contributions from Olivia 'damegrace' Cowley, a soloist with The Royal Ballet; names expert, Carole Hough; Grace Kelly fan and film studies academic, Stella Bruzzi; philosophy professor Miranda Fricker; and Grace Maxwell, whose memoir Falling and Laughing documents the recovery of her husband Edwyn from a near-fatal brain haemorrhage.

Producer: Nick Baker

A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.