The New Popularity of Storybook Names

What’s the connection between Lena Dunham’s tattoos and several of today’s most fashionable baby names? Dunham famously has Eloise of the storybook Plaza tattooed on her shoulder, and Eloise also happens to be one of today’s fastest-rising baby names, leaping up nearly 600 places since it reentered the Top 1000 list in 2009.  And the link is not just coincidence and is not limited to the charming Eloise: Many parents today are turning to their favorite childhood storybook characters for inspiration of both the baby name and tattoo variety.

Our focus today is on fictional characters in children’s books, though some older characters’ names in stories beloved by teens are finding favor too: Holden in Catcher in the Rye, for example, and Juliet in Romeo & Juliet.

The charming characters inspiring the names of an increasing number of babies include:


Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland was first introduced to the world way back in 1865, and has found fame in many different ways over the decades. Disney made an animated version in the 1950s, but a 1999 live action film on NBC featuring Whoopi Goldberg and Ben Kingsley introduced the story to this generation of parents. Alice has climbed nearly 300 places in the past decade and now lies just outside the Top 100. Over the coming decade, she may well regain the Top 10 status she held a century ago.

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11 Responses to “The New Popularity of Storybook Names”

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The_Supernatural_Hufflepuff Says:

November 28th, 2014 at 1:37 am

I love literary names and a lot of the names on my list are literary names! I loved all the names in this list except for Max

Chloe14 Says:

November 28th, 2014 at 11:13 am

I didn’t like many of the names on this list! The only one I did like was Sawyer for a little boy.

miloowen Says:

November 28th, 2014 at 2:14 pm

My pets have always had literary names: Current cat names are Simey (Simon) for the main character from Patricia Wrightson’s The Nargun and the Stars and Duncan from the king in the Scottish play.

Lo Says:

November 28th, 2014 at 7:55 pm

I thought for sure Amelia would be on this list – as in Amelia Bedelia!

JossieChris Says:

November 29th, 2014 at 2:05 pm

Pippi longstocking was my favorite. I wish I was brave enough! I love Pollyanna too!

Catastroffy Says:

November 30th, 2014 at 6:05 am

I love storybook names! I wish they weren’t becoming popular, though, because I don’t like to follow the trends in my name-choosing…

saraallison Says:

November 30th, 2014 at 11:22 am

Love these. My daughter’s name is Madeline, and we also pronounce it with the long i sound at the end like in the book. The book was a dear favorite of mine as a child, and I am now a children’s literature teacher, so it was fitting to name her somewhat after the character. (We also just liked the name.)
I am actually trying to think of what we will name the next daughter if we do have another girl. I love Amelia, though I never read the Amelia Bedelia books as a child (strangely). Thanks Lo, for reminding me there is a famous Amelia in children’s books!
I do like Holden a lot for a boy, but I would have to get over my fear of looking pretentious in using it. 🙂 I love Alexander–no nickname–like in the Judith Viorst Alexander books. I also love the name Sal for a boy–which comes from my love of Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey. But Sal is a girl in the book (although bc of her short hair, I thought she was a boy for a long time…maybe that’s why I like Sal better for a boy?), which is cute too, I think.

jem Says:

December 1st, 2014 at 2:58 am

I adore Eloise and Matilda. Unfortunately both are very popular where I live! You neglected to mention that Matilda is in the top 20 in Australia 🙂 And Eloise is #68! Lovely names though. My cousin’s name is Eloise.

amf0224 Says:

December 1st, 2014 at 1:12 pm

Love this list! Alice, Eloise, Madeline, and Finn are favorites of mine!

indiefendi Says:

December 2nd, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Elowen Pearl
Luna Camille
Rhea Celine

Are my favorites for girls, but all of them were lovely! *heart eyes*

CaitlinBrittin Says:

March 25th, 2015 at 7:25 am

Such a sweet list! Lots of good names here. And while I know Harry Potter is not really a storybook I think this generation will also have many children named after Harry Potter characters, which is totally a good thing if you ask me!

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