A good book can change your life, whether it’s Harry Potter or a Dostoyevsky novel that gets you hooked. For many parents-to-be, particularly those who want to bestow a meaningful name upon their child, drawing from great works of literature is a no-brainer. If you’re interested in paying homage to your favorite author or character, these literature-inspired baby names are classics that will sound just as respectable in adulthood as they do adorable on an infant. And when you want to hone those parenting skills, discover the 20 Easy Ways to Be a (Much) Better Mother.
While George is a common enough name, it has a notable literary history. In addition to being the first name of authors Orwell, Saunders, and Eliot (her pen name, at least), George Emerson is also the romantic interest of protagonist Lucy Honeychurch in E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View. Reading isn’t the only way to make yourself a more interesting dinner party guest, however, so be sure to bone up on the 50 Awesome Facts About Everything.
Zelda Fitzgerald, said to be the inspiration for Daisy Buchanan in her husband’s classic The Great Gatsby, may have had a brief life, but her name is still synonymous with literary talent and passion to this day.
From French author Émile Zola to the protagonist in Erich Kästner’s beloved children’s book Emil and the Detectives, this elegant-sounding name is uncommon, but falls short of being odd.
What better moniker to give your child than that of Roald Dahl’s feisty, book-loving heroine?
Whether you’re naming your son after author Oscar Wilde or the title character in Junot Diaz’s modern classic The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, this classic name is perfect for babies and adults alike. And if parenting is upping your cortisol, be sure to check out the 30 Easy Ways to Fight Stress.
Dashiell Hammett fans will love this name, which their little one can share with the quick-witted female protagonist in Hammett’s classic The Thin Man.
While it might be impossible to keep your kids young forever, this Oscar Wilde–inspired name is the next best thing.
An early source of influence for the feminist movement and the subject of much subsequent critique, Virginia Woolf is a worthy woman for any child to share a name with. Even when you don’t have time to read, you can still keep learning by listening to the 15 Podcasts That Will Make You 15 Percent Smarter.
Naming your son after Catherine Earnshaw’s moody romantic interest in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights will afford him a cute nickname, Heath, and possibly a reputation for being a tortured soul.
James Joyce fans can show their love for the Irish author’s work without deviating too far from the beaten path by dubbing their little one Molly, after Molly Bloom from Ulysses.
Need a name that works for adults, but has a cute nickname? Borrow one from Nathan Zuckerman, Philip Roth’s frequent protagonist. And if you’re eager to enjoy a smarter, more productive life even when you’re not brushing up on literature, it’s time to learn the 15 Ways to Double Your Productivity in Half the Time.
Any girl would be lucky to share her name with author Joan Didion, whose work has been inspiring readers and capturing the essence of American culture for more than 50 years.
Whether you love or hate J.D. Salinger’s protagonist in The Catcher in the Rye, it’s hard to deny that he has a great name.
The British author behind classics like Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie, has a charmingly old-fashioned name that’s well worth sharing. Want to expand your mind beyond your bookshelf? Bone up on the 10 Amazing Facts That Will Make You Smarter This Week.
Whether you’re a fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s astrophysics primers or the main character in Goodbye, Columbus, Philip Roth’s celebrated novella, boys named Neil have some big shoes to fill.
While this name’s derivative nicknames, like Maggie and Maisie, are plenty cute, the ties to The Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood make this name surprisingly strong.
Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations may not have given us much to go on for men’s names—Pip and Abel don’t top our favorites list—but Estella is still quite a stunner.
The last name of Sam Clay, one of the titular characters in Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, makes for a strong first name on its own, too.
Fans of The Bell Jar can take inspiration from the elegant first name of its author for their own little ones.
John Kennedy Toole’s hilarious masterpiece, A Confederacy of Dunces, offers up an unusual, but cool first name for little ones.
Countless readers have been inspired by Jo March, the heroine of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, and her name isn’t half bad, either.
It’s possible that naming your son after Arthur Conan Doyle, the author who created Sherlock Holmes, will instill a love of adventure and mystery in your little one, too.
If naming your kid after a book’s main character seems obvious, Nellie works just as well. In this case, she’s the boat in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.
While ultimately a tragic figure, there’s no denying that Jay Gatsby has a cool name, and one worth sharing. Even when you’re not reading, you can improve your brainpower by taking the 15 Over-the-Counter Drugs That Will Make You Smarter.
The heroine of Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s has a charming moniker that will work for nature literature lovers alike.
If you’re eager to name your child something classic, but not overly used, take inspiration from Graham Greene, author of The Quiet American and Our Man in Havana.
Feminist parents can take a page from Erica Jong’s seminal feminist novel, Fear of Flying, by naming their daughters after its liberated protagonist, Isadora Wing.
Looking for a Stephen King-inspired name that’s a little easier to live with than Pennywise or Cujo? Try out Roland, the first name of the protagonist in King’s Dark Tower series.
King Lear’s favorite daughter, Cordelia, has a name well worth bestowing on a little one. In addition to its literary significance, it’s thought to have a cool meaning, too: daughter of the sea.
From authors like James Baldwin and James Joyce to James Barnes, the male protagonist in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, this strong, nickname-friendly moniker has countless literary ties. And to really up your Hemingway game, learn how to make his signature drink, the daiquiri, one of the 20 Cocktails Everyone Should Know How to Make.
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