Literary Names

Literary Names

Literary names, drawn from the characters in books for both adults and children as well as from the names of well-loved authors, are gaining in popularity. Literary names can confer meaning on a child as well as provide a worthy hero or heroine to look up to.

Names from the best-loved children's books may be gaining the most in popularity. While many of these — Alice (in Wonderland) and Charlotte (of the Web), say — carry references that go far beyond the literary, other names are closely identified with the characters who inspired their popularity.

Along with Alice and Charlotte, literary baby names from children's and young adult books ranking in the US Top 500 include Sawyer, Matilda, Finn, Holden, Lyra, and Eloise. Unique literary names from children's books or of young characters gaining attention include Huck, Ramona, Scout, and Hermione.

Historical novels also provide a rich source of popular literary names. Drawn from the works of authors from Shakespeare to Jane Austen to F. Scott Fitzgerald, top historical literary names include Juliet, Archer, Scarlett, and Darcy, for both genders.

Emma, a Top 10 name in the US, France, Germany, Italy, and Ireland, among other countries, also has a strong literary influence as the title character from the Jane Austen novel.

Names of historically-important authors are also notable. These might be first names, such as Willa (Cather), Edith (Wharton), Dashiell (Hammett), and Hart (Crane). The newest literary names are drawn from the surnames of famous authors. Along with Austen and Bronte, unique literary surname names we love include Auden, Poe, Angelou, and Baldwin.

Literary works adapted in recent years for popular television shows and movies have had a strong influence, especially from the name-rich works of J.K. Rowling and George R. R. Martin. Literary names that have been created or popularized by the Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Hunger Games, and Twilight franchises include Arya, Khaleesi, Katniss, Albus, and Bella.

True fans will want to investigate the specialized lists of Harry Potter Names, Game of Thrones Names, Hunger Games Names, Twilight Names, Shakespeare Names, and Fairy Tale Names.

The best place to start your search for the perfect literary baby name is with your favorite books and authors, of course. But you might love the name first and read the book or research the author afterwards.

Here is a collection of literary baby names, ordered by their current popularity on Nameberry.

RELATED

Literary Girl Names  

Literary Boy Names

Baby Names from Books

  1. Eloise
    • Origin:

      French and English variation of Heloise
    • Meaning:

      "healthy; wide"
    • Description:

      Well balanced between sleek, sweet, strong, and vintage, newly chic Eloise re-entered the US Top 1000 in 2009, following a 50 year absence. In 2022, it broke into the Top 100 in the US and across the pond in the UK. Given to nearly 3000 babies each year, Eloise is showing no sign of stepping out of the spotlight.
  2. Silas
    • Origin:

      Aramaic, Latin, Greek
    • Meaning:

      "of the forest; or prayed for"
    • Description:

      Sleek and smart, with a hint of mystique about it, Silas is a recent addition to the US Top 100. Both mythological and Biblical in origin, Silas joins the ranks of Isaiah, Atlas, Elias, and Sebastian: polished and contemporary feeling names with plenty of history.
  3. August
    • Origin:

      German form of Latin Augustus
    • Meaning:

      "great, magnificent"
    • Description:

      The name August is at its highest point since the 1890s, when it ranked among the Top 100 boy names in the US. And deservedly so, given its great meaning, historic roots, and cool nicknames.
  4. Aurora
    • Origin:

      Latin
    • Meaning:

      "dawn"
    • Description:

      The goddess name Aurora has consistently been on the US popularity list since the nineteenth century, but has really taken off in the past 30 years. Aurora also enjoys remarkable international popularity, ranking in the Top 100 throughout the English-speaking world as well as in Italy, Spain, Norway, Switzerland, and several other European and Latin American countries.
  5. Jude
    • Origin:

      Latin diminutive of Judah
    • Meaning:

      "praised"
    • Description:

      Jude is a modern star, maintaining a steady level of popularity -- but not TOO much popularity -- for more than a decade now. Thank Jude Law and the great Lennon-McCartney song "Hey Jude", double-handedly responsible for propelling Jude up the charts.
  6. Milo
    • Origin:

      Latin and Old German
    • Meaning:

      "soldier or merciful"
    • Description:

      Milo is most commonly considered to be Germanic name derived from the Latin word miles, meaning "soldier." However, there is evidence to suggest it also may have independently spawned from the Slavic root milu, meaning "merciful." Milo predates brother name Miles, a variation that evolved when the name immigrated to the British Isles in the Middle Ages. Mylo is an alternate spelling.
  7. Charlotte
    • Origin:

      French, feminine diminutive of Charles
    • Meaning:

      "free man"
    • Description:

      Charlotte, the name of the young Princess of Cambridge, is the latest classic name to join Sophia, Emma, Olivia, and Isabella at the top of the popularity list. It is now among the most popular girl names in many English-speaking and European countries.
  8. Luna
    • Origin:

      Latin
    • Meaning:

      "moon"
    • Description:

      The name of the Roman goddess of the moon, Luna is derived straight from the Latin word for moon, luna. Luna may be the name most likely to surprise someone from an older generation by its Top 10 status in the US and its widespread international popularity.
  9. Atticus
    • Origin:

      Latin
    • Meaning:

      "from Attica"
    • Description:

      Atticus, with its trendy Roman feel combined with the upstanding, noble image of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, is a real winner among boy names. Atticus entered the US Top 1000 in 2004 and is a firm Nameberry favorite.
  10. Alice
    • Origin:

      German
    • Meaning:

      "noble"
    • Description:

      Alice is a classic literary name that's both strong and sweet, ranking in the US Top 100 and popular throughout the western world. Alice is derived from the Old French name Aalis, a diminutive of Adelais that itself came from the Germanic name Adalhaidis, which is composed of the Proto-Germanic elements aþala, meaning "noble," and haidu, "kind, appearance, type."
  11. Hazel
    • Origin:

      English
    • Meaning:

      "the hazelnut tree"
    • Description:

      Hazel has a pleasantly hazy, brownish-green-eyed, old-fashioned image that more and more parents are choosing to share. Former Old Lady name Hazel reentered the popularity lists in 1998 and now is near the top of the charts.
  12. Esme
    • Origin:

      French
    • Meaning:

      "beloved"
    • Description:

      Esmé comes from the past participle of the Old French verb esmer, meaing "to esteem" or "to love." It can also be considered a derivative of the Spanish name Esmeralda, which means "emerald".
  13. Jasper
    • Origin:

      Persian
    • Meaning:

      "bringer of treasure"
    • Description:

      Jasper originated as a variation of the Latin Gaspar, which ultimately derived from the Persian word ganzabara, meaning "bringer of treasure." As a given name, Jasper’s etymology is unrelated to that of the gemstone, which comes from a Semitic word meaning "speckled stone." Jasper is the usual English form for one of the Three Wise Men who brought gifts to the infant Christ according to medieval tradition and appears in the Bible as a reference to the stone itself in Revelations 4:3.
  14. Hugo
    • Origin:

      Latinized form of Hugh
    • Meaning:

      "mind, intellect"
    • Description:

      Hugo, the Latin form of Hugh, has more heft and energy than the original -- and of course we love names that end (or begin, for that matter) with an o. This one is especially appealing because it's backed up by lots of solid history and European style.
  15. Arabella
    • Origin:

      Latin
    • Meaning:

      "yielding to prayer"
    • Description:

      Arabella, lovely and elegant, has long been well used in Britain and finally made it onto the American list in 2005. Its meaning may also be interpreted as "beautiful," thanks to -bella.
  16. Cordelia
    • Origin:

      Latin; Celtic
    • Meaning:

      "heart; daughter of the sea"
    • Description:

      Cordelia is exactly the kind of old-fashioned, grown-up name for girls that many parents are seeking for their daughters today. The name of King Lear's one sympathetic daughter, Cordelia has both style and substance along with its Shakespearean pedigree.
  17. Sebastian
    • Origin:

      Latin from Greek
    • Meaning:

      "person from ancient city of Sebastia"
    • Description:

      Sebastian is an ancient martyr's name turned literary, and Little Mermaid hero—think Sebastian the Crab—that's more popular than ever, as a classic-yet-unconventional compatriot for fellow British favorites T Theodore and Oliver.
  18. Beatrice
    • Origin:

      Latin
    • Meaning:

      "she who brings happiness; blessed"
    • Description:

      Beatrice is back. Stored in the attic for almost a century, the lovely Beatrice with its long literary (Shakespeare, Dante) and royal history is being looked at with fresh eyes by parents seeking a classic name with character and lots of upbeat nicknames, like Bea and Bee.
  19. Rhys
    • Origin:

      Welsh
    • Meaning:

      "ardor"
    • Description:

      There's Rhys and there's Reese (now more popular for girls) and there's Reece, and we particularly like the traditional Welsh spelling, which entered the list in 2004, possibly influenced by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, of The Tudors, and Welsh-born actor Rhys Ifans.
  20. Ethan
    • Origin:

      Hebrew
    • Meaning:

      "strong, firm"
    • Description:

      Ethan is a name that succeeds in being at once classic and fashionable, serious and cheery, strong and sensitive. Given a big boost via the name of the Tom Cruise character in the Mission Impossible film series, Ethan has fallen from its peak at Number 2 in 2009 and 2010, but is still popular in the US along with several other countries.