30 Baby Names Inspired by Classic Books

baby names from classic books
Graphics by: Anna Wissler

Novels are treasure troves of evocative names to consider for your new baby. If you’re looking for something vintage, classic literature can be a great source of inspiration. While older English-language classics tend to feature Western names, you can look to slightly newer books—that have quickly become classics—for names with origins in other parts of the globe.

It’d be impossible to list every memorable name from classic literature (War and Peace alone features hundreds of named characters), but below are a few of our favorite baby names inspired by influential authors and fictional characters.

 

Book-inspired Names for Baby Girls

classic book names

Source: Etsy | BusyPuzzle

 

Ashima

Origin: Indian, Hebrew

Ashima, which means “limitless,” is the name of the kind, complex mother in Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel, The Namesake. It is also the name of an ancient Semitic goddess.

 

Daisy

Origin: English

While the leading lady in The Great Gatsby may not be the most admirable character, Daisy is still a sweet name that harkens back to the early 20th century.

 

Edith

Origin: English

Edith Wharton, the groundbreaking author of The House of Mirth, The Age of Innocence, and other novels, was groundbreaking as a prominent female author writing candidly about the American upper class in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

 

Elizabeth

Origin: Hebrew

Jane Austen fans will be quick to recognize the name Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice. As a bonus, few names lend themselves to a wider variety of nicknames if you end up feeling like your child is more of a Liz, Liza, Elle, Betty, or Beth.

 

Emma

Origin: English

The eponymous protagonist of Emma is another charming Jane Austen favorite. It was recently brought back into the limelight with the 2020 film adaptation starring Anya Taylor-Joy.

 

Esperanza

Origin: Spanish

The name of the heroine in The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, Esperanza, means “hope” in Spanish.

 

Fermina

Origin: Spanish

This lovely name is inspired by the beautiful Fermina in Love in the Time of Cholera by Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez.

 

Juliet

Origin: English

It wouldn’t be a literary list without at least one inclusion from Shakespeare. Juliet is a timeless choice that also lends itself to more modern nicknames like Julie or Jules.

 

Jing-Mei

Origin: Chinese

Fans of Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club may recognize this name as one of the daughters in the novel. While it’s received some criticism since its publication, it remains one of the most influential books of the 20th century by an Asian-American author.

 

Katerina

Origin: Russian

In Anna Karenina, Katerina (nicknamed “Kitty”) was one of the leading female characters. She had a much happier fate than the protagonist, Anna. 

 

Louisa

Origin: German

When you think of a strong namesake for a girl, it’s hard to argue with Louisa May Alcott, who bucked stereotypes by writing Little Women at a time when women writers were generally not taken seriously. 

 

Maya

Origin: Hebrew, Spanish, Greek

With roots in many different cultures, Maya is a nod to one of the most influential African-American women writers in history, Maya Angelou, author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and many other works.

 

Zora

Origin: Arabic, Slavic, African

This name, which means “dawn” or “sunrise,” pays tribute to Zora Neale Hurston, author of many novels, including Their Eyes Were Watching God—a classic of the Harlem Renaissance.

 

Book-inspired Names for Baby Boys

 

Aldous

Origin: English

This elegant name is often associated with the British writer Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World and nearly 50 other books. 

 

James

Origin: Hebrew

James pays tribute to many great authors, including James Baldwin, James Joyce, and Henry James. 

 

Florentino

Origin: Spanish

Inspired by the hopeless romantic in Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, Florentino is a name that rolls off the tongue.

 

Haruki

Origin: Japanese

Haruki, known by many as the name of the prolific Japanese author Haruki Murakami, is associated with spring. Therefore, it’s a sweet choice for a spring due date.

 

Langston

Origin: English

Langston is a nod to the seminal writer of the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes.

 

Nicholas

Origin: Greek

As the name of the narrator and protagonist of The Great Gatsby, Nicholas (or “Nick”) is a solid choice for those with a special place in their hearts for this great American novel.

 

Oscar

Origin: Irish

The outspoken writer Oscar Wilde—famous for The Picture of Dorian Gray and many quotable lines like “I can resist everything except temptation”—makes a fun namesake.

 

Oliver

Origin: Norse, English

Inspired by Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist, the name Oliver has a variety of meanings, including “the olive tree.” 

 

Gender Neutral Book-inspired Baby Names

 

Amory

Origin: English, German

Amory, the protagonist in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel This Side of Paradise, is a stately choice for those looking for a name that’s not particularly common.

 

Darcy

The surname of Pride and Prejudice’s Mr. Darcy could just as well make a nice gender-neutral first name—and is arguably simpler than the character’s first name, Fitzwilliam. 

 

Gabriel

Origin: Latin, Hebrew

With roots in antiquity and Judeo-Christian tradition, Gabriel is also a nod to Gabriel García Márquez, author of One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera, and other novels. 

 

Harper

Origin: English

One of the most popular names of the last few years, the name Harper is often associated with Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman.

 

Franny

Origin: English 

While there are many males with the name, J.D. Salinger gave the name to his famous female character, Franny Glass. It can stand on its own or be a nickname for Francis.

 

Jo

Origin: American

The heroine of Little Women may have been named Josephine, but Jo is what we really know her by and has the added benefit of being gender-neutral. 

 

Laurie

Origin: Latin

Also from Little Women, Laurie is everyone’s favorite boy-next-door. Though a nickname for the character, Theodore Laurence, Laurie is a solid name in itself, associated with laurel wreaths, a symbol of victory.

 

Toni

Origin: Pan-European

Often used as a nickname for names like Antoinette or Anthony, Toni also pays homage to Toni Morrison, author of Beloved, The Bluest Eye, and other classics. 

 

Zooey

Origin: Greek

Zooey, which means “life,” is the name of Franny Glass’s brother in J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey.

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