You never know where inspiration for your baby name list may strike. Maybe it’s from your favorite TV show, the name of an old friend, a certain letter, or even someone’s pet (yes, my friend named her baby after her neighbor’s dog, June). But one of the best places to look for a timeless baby name is in your favorite books. These literary girl names are pulled straight from the pages of classics, fairy tales, children’s books, and more contemporary novels.
Many of the baby girl names on this list — like Anne, Jane, or Maya — feel classic without being overtly literary. But it’ll still be fun to explain why you named your baby what you did, and to one day get to share a great book with the character’s namesake. Other names on this list of baby girl names are inspired by authors rather than their protagonists, while some give a nod to more current literary names like Katniss or Bridget, and they pair so well with literary boy names (if you’re expecting twins or siblings).
Naming a baby girl is hard — choosing a name for your baby can feel like a lot of pressure. If you want to be sure you pick a name you won’t grow tired of, turn to your favorite book for a literary-inspired girls’ name perfect for an English major in training. After all, if you can read your favorite book over and over again, you won’t get sick of hearing your favorite character or author’s name (except maybe when that “protagonist” is having a major meltdown).
Fans of the Anne Of Green Gables series will feel transported to Prince Edward Island when they hear this name. Less well-known, Anne Bradstreet was the first person (male or female) to have a book of poems published in America, and one of the Brontë sisters is also Anne. The strong, one syllable girls’ name actually means “Grace.”
Give a nod to Shakespeare with the name Cordelia, who was King Lear’s youngest daughter. This literary girls’ name has so many nicknames (Cor, Delia, Lia, or even Cora) and it’s uncommon without being unheard of. The name means “heart” or “daughter of the sea.” Buffy fans will appreciate this one, too.
A beautiful literary name, Scarlett stands on its own and is also instantly recognizable as the protagonist in Gone With The Wind. The name reads “red” and it calls to mind a fiery, independent girl, but you could also pull other names from the classic book like Melanie or Rhett.
Maybe it’s time for the name Hester to get a second chance. Inspired by Hester Prynne, the protagonist of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter the name is a cool twist on Esther. If Hester, which means “star” isn’t right for you, you could go with Pearl, Hester’s daughter in the novel.
Meaning “powerful and mighty” Matilda is a strong name for a girl and the French version, Mathilde, is also very pretty. Of course this name brings to mind Roald Dahl’s famous protagonist, Matilda, who is as lovable as she is fierce. Tilly is a super cute nickname, too.
Jane Eyre is a heroine your child will be proud to share a name with, even if they may not read Charlotte Brontë’s famous novel for quite a while. Simple, short, and classic, Jane means “God is gracious.”
At first it may seem odd to name your baby girl after a cartoon bear who doesn’t wear pants, but Winnie is such a cute name. Interestingly, Winnie The Pooh got his name from a black bear at the London Zoo in the 1920s. The name is often (though not necessarily) short for Winifred, Edwina, or even Gwyneth and on its own it means “happiness” or “fair.”
Any of the names of the March sisters from Little Women feel instantly classic and literary. Jo, which is often short for Josephine, is the eldest sister and possible the most recognizable in terms of literary names, but Beth, Meg, or Amy work well, too.
Parenting feels positively mad sometimes, which is fitting for this literary named plucked from Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland. Meaning “noble” this classic name has both French and English origins, and it’s simple and easy to spell without being overly used.
Juliet is an undeniably literary name for girls (and she’s sure to get random Shakespeare quotes lobbed in her direction when people learn her name) but it’s also just a really pretty and timeless name meaning “youthful.”
Whether you’re referencing Charlotte’s Web or Charlotte Brontë, this beautiful and classic girls name meaning “free” is always a good choice. Charlie is a sweet nickname too.
Catherine Earnshaw is the protagonist of the 1847 novel Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. Other literary classics with characters named Catherine include The Taming of the Shrew, Pride & Prejudice, and Catherine, Called Birdy (another cute literary name).
Flower names for girls are always lovely, and Daisy has the added bonus of being playful but also literary, thanks to the character in The Great Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan.
This is one of the rare names that as cute for a baby as it is cool for an adult. Borrowed from To Kill A Mockingbird, this strong one syllable name is fitting for an adventurous spirit.
Celie is the protagonist in The Color Purple by Alice Walker, and while the character has a rough childhood, she eventually does find her voice. It’s a beautiful, unusual name meaning “blind” and it’s a nice alternative to Cecilia or Cici.
Looking for a more contemporary literary girls name? How about Bridget, named after the cheeky Bridget Jones (but no one will necessarily think that right away). It means “exalted one” and is typically thought of as an Irish name.
Instead of naming your baby girl for a literary character, opt for a favorite author instead. Maya Angelou is one of the most celebrated authors of the 20th century and her name means “good mother.”
Zora Neale Hurston is another wonderful author of the 20th century best known for writing Their Eyes Were Watching God one of the most important pieces of literature about Harlem Renaissance and race. The name means “sunrise” and is a nice alternative to the more popular Nora.
Drew is a cool unisex name meaning “strong” and it’ll make you think of beloved amateur detective, Nancy Drew. While the name is usually short for Andrew for boys, it’s not a nickname in most cases for girls.
Fans of The Hunger Games will know exactly what this name calls back to. It’s not a made up name, though Katniss Everdeen is responsible for reviving it. Katniss means “a beautiful plant.”
Lisbeth is sometimes short for Elizabeth (though it totally stands on its own) and it also happens to be fierce protagonist from the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo books. Lisbeth is typically a Hebrew name meaning “God is my oath.”
Madeline L’Engle’s whimsical classic, A Wrinkle in Time, has inspired generations of readers so what better literary girl name than after the legend herself? Madeline comes from French and means “woman of Magdala” but is most often a reference to the Biblical figure Mary Magdalene.
What little kid wouldn’t want to live (at least for a little bit) like Kay Thompson’s Eloise? Kids will like seeing their name on the cover of the book, and this whimsical, cute name for girls means “healthy.”
There’s a lot to love about Ramona Quimby, the imaginative protagonist of the Ramona series by Beverly Cleary. The name isn’t common but it’s easy to spell and pronounce, and it means “wise protector.” It’s actually a feminine version of the male name Raymond.
Hamlet’s ill-fated love may have been a Danish noblewoman, but her name comes from Greek and means “helper.”
In Virgil’s Aeneid, Dido is the founder of Carthage, a powerful queen. The origin of this Ancient name is uncertain, but scholars speculate it could either come from the same root as the Hebrew name David, which means “beloved” or a Phonecian word meaning “wanderer.”
Lily Bart from Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth is a stunning beauty who has fallen on hard times. Her life is tragic, but her story is timeless and epic. In the language of flowers, lilies symbolize purity and innocence.
This Spanish name means “emerald,” and is given to the female protagonist in Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame.
One of the great romantic heroines of all time is Isolde (who also goes by the names Iseult, Yseult, Ysolt, Isode, Isoude, Iseut, Isaut, Iosóid, Esyllt, Ysella, Isolda, Izolda, and Isotta, depending on the source material) is the queen of Cornwall. Though she’s married to the king of that country, Mark, she drank a love potion that made her fall in love with the night Tristan, who was tasked with bringing her to her husband. Her name comes from Old High German and means “ice battle.”
More Literary Girl Names
- Dorothy (The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum)
- Daphne (author Daphne du Maurier)
- Becky (Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray )
- Emma (Emma by Jane Austen)
- Elinor (Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen)
- Marianne (Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen)
- Sylvia (poet Sylvia Plath)
- Willa (author Willa Cather)
- Shirley (Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery or author Shirley Jackson)
- Lucrezia (Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf)
- Éowyn (The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien)
- Fern (Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White)
- Lennox (The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett)
- Scheherazade (One Thousand and One Nights)
- Guinivere (Le Mort D’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory)
- Beatrice (Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare)
- Lucie (A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens)
- Estella (Great Expectations by Charles Dickens)
- Lyra (His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman)
- Zeena (Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton)
- Virginia (author Virginia Woolf)
- Tess (Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy)
- Villette (the book of the same name by Charlotte Brontë)
- Mary-Katherine (We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson)
- Sappho (the Greek poet)
- Briony (Atonement by Ian McEwan)
- Natasha (War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy)
- Francie (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith)
- Gwendolen (The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde)
- Viola (Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare)
Whatever name your pick for your literary little one, you’re sure to adore her just as much as the beloved book that inspires your choice.
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