10 Classic Baby Names From Literature

10 Classic Baby Names From Literature

Choosing a baby name can feel like an impossible task. It has to be unique, yet not so unique that it is unpronounceable or will make your child an object of ridicule in school. Names rise and fall in popularity, most usually a particular celebrity or tv show is dominating the headlines.

One inspiration for naming your baby could be classic literature. Many of these names perfectly skirt the line between memorable and classic. Whilst they may not sound as modern or unique as the current trendy baby names, you can be sure that they will stand the test of time.


  1. Anaïs

Literary Inspiration: The French-Cuban Writer Anaïs Nin.

French, pronounced Ah-nai-eece. Whilst it doesn’t have the easiest pronunciation, this name will stand out from the crowd with its delicate intonation. Anais Nin was an elegant and cosmopolitan writer who lived a wild and glamorous life between Paris and New York, with scores of artist and writer friends.



2. Beatrice

Literary Inspiration: Dante Aligheri’s lost love, Beatrice Portinari, from “La Vita Nuova”.

Pronounced Bee-a-triss. Beatrice Portinari was Dante’s “lost” love - he saw her from afar in the street and spent the rest of his life pining after her. Alas, Beatrice was betrothed to another and Dante never actually spoke to her face-to-face. He mythologised her in “Vita Nuova”, as a sort of saintly “spirit guide” who would guide him through the levels of the underworld.


3. Brett

Literary Inspiration: The thwarted love-interest of “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway.

Not unlike Beatrice, Hemingway’s most enigmatic female character, Lady Brett Ashley, is loved by the protagonist from afar. Reflected in her androgynous and chic name, Brett is elegant and worldly-wise and remains coolly above the petty rivalries of their friend group.



4. Esme

Literary Inspiration: From the short story collection “From Esme, With Love and Squalor” by J.D. Salinger.

 Pronounced Ez-May / Ez-mee. Salinger loved writing precocious child characters who confound adults with their wry wisdom. The titular character from Salinger’s short story collection, Esme is a young girl wise beyond her years. She captivates the older narrator with her intelligence and frankness, who she persuades to write to her after their first meeting.



5. Lyra

Literary Inspiration: The heroine of the acclaimed children’s series “His Dark Materials” by Philip Pullman.

Lyra is the heroine of Pullman’s fantasy trilogy. She is wily and brave and doesn’t follow the rules and not as delicate her sweet and musical name would suggest. A modern children’s classic that has not become quite as ubiquitous as some other novels, which means this name has not become over saturated yet.


6. Matilda

Literary Inspiration: From the childhood classic “Matilda” by Roald Dahl

A classic name, synonymous with one of literature’s most beloved book-worms. Matilda is a lonely and neglected child who has found a home in books - as well as her surprising kinetic powers…



7. Rosalind 

Literary Inspiration: Romeo first love, from ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by William Shakespeare.

Pronounced Roe-sah-lin / Roz-ah-lin. Spare a thought for the Romeo’s swiftly abandoned paramour, the briefly mentioned Rosalind. We don’t learn anything about Rosalind, apart from the fact that Romeo was crazy about her before Juliet showed up on the scene. This name, whilst over several hundred years old, is still sweet and fresh.


               Heaven Quote Shakespeare Print


8. Auden

Literary Inspiration: The British poet and writer, William Auden.

Pronounced Aw-dun. A solid name after one of Britain’s most acclaimed poets.


9. Atticus

Literary Inspiration: The heroine’s father from the modern masterpiece “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee.

Atticus Finch is the father of To Kill a Mockingbird’s child protagonist. A just lawyer, he is the novel’s moral authority as Scout navigates the thorny racial politics of her small Southern town. 


10. Jude

Literary Inspiration: The protagonist of the 19th century novel, “Jude the Obscure” by Thomas Hardy.

The main character of Thomas Hardy’s eponymous novel may not be widely read outside of university Lit classes, but as a name it is distinct and surprisingly modern.

      Thomas Hardy Quote Print

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