Invented by Irish author Jonathan Swift for a poem he published in 1726 entitled, "Cadenus and Vanessa." He created the name using "Van" from his friend Esther Vanhomrigh's surname and adding "Esse" which is the pet form of Esther. The name was influenced by English actress Vanessa Redgrave whose five decade career in film, stage, and television started in the late 1950s. It's recently known for singer and actress Vanessa Hudgens of Disney's "High School Musical" fame. Also the name of a genus of butterflies.