Vanessa was invented by Jonathan Swift, an Anglo-Irish writer, and used in his poem Cadenus and Vanessa. Originally, it was a nickname for his friend Esther Vanhomrig. Later on, Vanessa became the name of a genus of butterfly, such as red admirals and painted ladies. Some sources also suggest that Vanessa is a derivation from Phanessa, an ancient mystic goddess. As a feminine given name, Vanessa has been popular since the middle of the 20th century.