Fiction writers choose names for their characters all the time. Many have a real knack for perfectly pairing a name with a character. Just look to Charles Dickens‘ Scrooge or Oliver Twist. Both names fit each character’s personality perfectly. Because authors are so adept at choosing names for their characters, this should mean that authors are really clever baby name pickers as well. As we know, literature can cause baby names to trend and completely change the trajectory of a name. For instance, Shakespeare is to blame for names like Miranda, Jessica, and Olivia mainstream. But, how do authors go about naming their own children?
We decided to round up 25 authors who are/were parents to gain some insights into how writers have chosen their children’s names. Take a look at the baby names they chose to inspire your own or just quench your curiosity by learning what appellations these literary greats used for their children.
Mark Twain named his children Clara, Jean, Susy, and Langdon. These baby names are fairly straightforward, but Langdon is rather unique. The name is of English origin, more commonly a surname, which means “long hill.”
Toni Morrison chose the baby names Harold and Slade for her sons. Harold is a classic, but Slade is a touch more unique. Slade is a name of English origin that means “of the valley.”
Herman Melville’s children were named Elizabeth, Malcolm, Frances, and Stanwix. Stanwix is obviously not a name one hears often. The curious baby name is of Old English origin and means “stone wall.”
Agatha Christie‘s choice for her only daughter is no mystery. She chose the poetic name, Rosalind. The name was made popular by Edmund Spenser and was used by Shakespeare in As You Like It. Rosalind is a name of Latin origin that means “beautiful rose.”
J.R.R. Tolkien named his children John Francis, Michael Hilary, Christopher John, and Pricilla Anne. The fantasy author chose some pretty established names for his kids. However, Pricilla is an interesting spelling of a name we most often see spelled Priscilla. The name is of Latin origin and means “ancient.”
Maya Angelou had one son named Guy. Guy was once a very common choice in the US, but by the middle of the 20th century, the baby name really took a nosedive. That means Guy would be a unique option today. The name is of French origin and means “guide” and “leader.”
Gabriel García Márquez
Gabriel García Márquez had two sons named Rodrigo and Gonzalo. Both names are Spanish from German. Rodrigo is a form of the name Roderick, meaning “famous ruler.” Gonzalo means “saved from combat.” Of the two names, Rodrigo is currently more popular in the US.
Fyodor Dostoevsky’s children were named Lyubov, Alexey, Sonya, and Fyodor. Lyubov was a new one to us. It is a baby name for girls of Russian origin that means “love.”
James Joyce’s two children were named Giorgio and Lucia. The Irish novelist chose two Latinate names for his children. Giorgio is the Italian form of George and means “farmer.” Lucia’s Latin root means “light.”
Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula K. Le Guin named her children Elisabeth, Theo, and Caroline. Despite having a very colorful name herself, Le Guin chose some pretty standard appellations for her children. She named Theo after her mother, who was named Theodora. Theo originated in Greek and means “gift of God.”
Roald Dahl named his children Olivia, Tessa, Theo, Lucy, and Ophelia. It should come as no surprise that each one of the baby names chosen by Dahl sound properly British. Ophelia is a name that has been on the rise in the US since 2015. It had fallen from favor for decades prior.
Jacqueline Woodson named her children Toshi Georgiana and Jackson-Leroi. Woodson had some fun with her baby names. Toshi is a name for girls in Japanese that can mean “harvest,” “year of plenty,” and “mirror.” Leroi was another adventurous choice. It is a name of French origin, also spelled Leroy, meaning “the king.”
Frank Herbert named his three children Brian, Bruce, and Penny. Herbert wrote some of the most compelling science fiction. The baby names he chose are far from the worlds he created. Brian, Bruce, and Penny are pretty established names.
RELATED: 25 Poetic Baby Names for Boys Inspired by Great Writers and Their Enduring Works of Art
Mary Shelley and Percy Shelley
Mary Shelley and Percy Shelley named their children Percy, William, and Clara. With two authors choosing names for their children, you might expect them to be slightly more adventurous.
Alex Haley named his children Cynthia, William, and Lydia. Of the three names, Cynthia is the least popular today. The name is of Greek origin and means “moon goddess.” Cynthia was once a top 10 name for girls in the 1950s and 1960s.
Salman Rushdie named his two children Zafar and Milan. Zafar is a beautiful baby name for boys of Arabic origin that means “victory.” Milan is a gender-neutral name found in both Italian and Slavic naming traditions. It can mean “gracious” or “dear.”
Gillian Flynn gave her surname to her son when she named him Flynn. Flynn first landed in the US top 1000 name for boys in 2011, and it has remained mildly popular since then. Flynn is of Irish origin and means “son of the redhead.”
Isaac Asimov had two children named Robyn and David. David is rather ubiquitous, but Robyn proves an interesting spelling of Robin, a name that means “bright fame.”
Kathleen Woodiwiss named her children Sean, Heath, and Dorren. Heath is a treasured name that was most popular in the US in the 1960s and 1970s. It means “heathland dweller.” Dorren is another unique baby name. It is of Irish origin and means “stranger” and “exile.” It is also spelled, Doran.
George Orwell gave his son a whole lot of name with Richard Horatio Blair. Horatio was once a popular given name in the US, but that has not been true since the 19th century. The ancient name is of German and Latin origin and means “hour.”
Christopher Paul Curtis
Christopher Paul Curtis named his four children Cydney, Steven, Ebyaan Hothan, and Ayaan Leslie. Some truly unique baby names! Cydney has to be the most unique spelling of Sydney that there is. We can’t get to the bottom of the name Ebyaan. And, we believe Ayaan is a name of Arabic origin that means “God’s gift.”
Kwame Alexander named his daughter Samayah. The baby name is of Arabic origin, and it means “pride.” Samayah is a gorgeous option.
Barbara Cartland had three children named Raine, Ian, and Glen. Raine is either a nature name or a French baby name for girls that means “queen.” It’s such a unique option here in the US, but it has taken off in England today for girls.
Daphne Du Maurier
Daphne Du Maurier’s three children were named Christian Frederick, Flavia, and Tessa. The most unique baby name among Du Maurier’s is Flavia. The name for girls was last popular in the US in 1888! Flavia is of Latin origin and means “golden” or “blond.”
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: 25 Baby Names for Girls Inspired by Poetry and Poets for Lovers of the Verse
Edith Nesbit had five children named Fabian, Rosamund, Paul, John, and Iris. Fabian is certainly a colorful baby name. The name is of Latin origin and means “bean grower.” Fabian is a top 500 name for boys in the US today. It is far more popular across Europe.
What did you think of these baby names chosen by famous authors? We hope they piqued your interest and gave you some insight into the names that writers like. If you want even more baby name inspiration, keep reading. We’ve got literary-inspired appellations to also share with you.
20 Literary-Inspired Baby Names We Love
Gwendolyn is an elegant and charming baby name for girls. There have been many famous Gwendolyns, but the best known is poet, Gwendolyn Brooks. She won a Pulitzer Prize, a Robert Frost Medal, and the National Medal of the Arts. Her poetry inspired many to reconsider notions of inner-city life.
The Welsh spelling, Gwendolen has a storied use throughout British literature. Gwendolen was a mythical queen of the Britons. A Gwendolen was also a wife to the wizard, Merlin in The Life of Merlin. And last but not least, Gwendolen Fairfax was one of Oscar Wilde’s very best characters from his comedy, The Importance of Being Earnest.
If you grew up reading J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, there may be no better option for you than the name Harry. The titular wizard, Harry played such an important part in many of our childhoods. Why not impart some of that magic onto your own little one? Other character names from the series would also make excellent baby names. Hermione, Draco, and Ron would be really fun names for a child.
Let’s not forget another magical Harry, Harry Houdini. This Harry published multiple books over the course of his life and has been the subject of many a novel and short story.
Perhaps one of the most storied names on this list, Emma is a classic name that’s appeared in many great works of fiction. From Jane Austen’s novel, Emma to Ransom Rigg’s series, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Emmas crop up everywhere and always make an impression.
Jane Austen describes Emma Woodhouse as “handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and a happy disposition.” We can all agree that those qualities would make for a happy baby. If you want to name your daughter for a character that transformed literary realism, Emma Bovary from Madame Bovary might be a good namesake. Just don’t think about that one for too long.
Henrik might seem like an odd name but it belonged to one of the most influential playwrights of all time, Henrik Ibsen. Known as the “father of realism,” Ibsen brought modernist views to the theater. For fans of A Doll’s House, Henrik would make the best name for a boy.
The name Henrik is Norweigan in origin and means “ruler of the home.” From the sound of the name to its meaning, Henrik conveys strength and power. If you’re looking for a bold children’s name with a nod to the performing arts, Henrik would be an ideal name.
The name Olivia means “olive tree” and has appeared as a character name in many notable works of fiction. From Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night to Ellen Potter’s Olivia Kidney novel, Olivias are everywhere. You might also recognize the name from the Olivia book series by Ian Falconer about a fictional pig.
Writers, Olivia Goldsmith and Olivia Manning both penned novels under the name. It’s a great name because it strikes a balance between beauty and strength. Both writers had these qualities in spades.
For fans of Greek mythology, Athos was the name of one of the Gigantes. Additionally, Alexandre Dumas gave the name Athos to a father figure in The Three Musketeers. Athos has a classical sound to it and any child with the name would definitely stand out.
Athos might also sound strong to you. You’d be correct. There’s Mount Athos in Greece and the Athos Range in Antarctica. Aside from the literary connections, naming your son for a mountain seems like a grand decision.
The character, Matilda Wormwood from Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s novel, Matilda is a brave and self-confident child with the power of telekinesis. Therefore, the name Matilda would be an excellent and whimsical name for a little girl. We all know kids are magical, but you could really play into it with this name.
Mary Shelley also wrote a novel named Matilda, but it’s much darker than Roal Dahl’s work. In fact, if you don’t know about Mary Shelley’s Matilda, but like the name, you might want to skip that one. You’ve been warned!
Many people don’t know this, but author E.B. White’s first name was Elwyn. White wrote children’s classics, Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web. Stories of lively animals that have to make decisions just like people do entertain and educate children to this very day. In addition to the children’s books, White wrote for The New Yorker for nearly twenty years. Parents who wear their “New Yorker” tote bags around town, would do well by their son by naming him Elwyn.
Elwyn is an uncommon name but it has a winning ring to it. The name comes from old English and means “wise friend.”
Maya is a beautiful name on its own, but knowing that it belonged to legendary poet, Maya Angelou makes it even more special. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. Her poem, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is one of the most famous American poems of all time.
A notable character named Maya comes from The Adventures of Maya the Bee, a German children’s book that’s popular worldwide. The name Maya is Spanish, Hebrew, and Greek in origin and means “water.”
The Huxley Family was a British family that had many members who excelled at science, medicine, art, and literature. Aldous Huxley was the writer of the family and published many novels. His most famous, Brave New World paints a dystopian picture for future societies. Huxley’s writing saw him nominated for a Nobel Prize in Literature seven times.
Huxley would make a handsome name for a boy and could be shortened to “Hux” or “Lee.”
You could honor American poetry and literature and name your daughter for Sylvia Plath. The name Sylvia means “spirit of the wood” which is literary in and out of itself. Sylvia Plath’s poetry is credited with advancing the style of confessional poetry. In addition to her poems, Sylvia also published a semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar which served as a way for her to relieve herself from the past.
In addition to Sylvia Plath, Sylvia appeared as the title of Upton Sinclair’s novel published in 1913. Years later it was revealed that Sylvia was actually written by his wife, Mary Craig Sinclair.
When you hear the name, Augustus you might immediately think of the first Emporer of ancient Rome. But, there’s much more to the name and we think it’s time for it to make a comeback. In part because the nickname “Gus” would just be too cute for a baby.
Characters named Augustus have appeared in many works of fiction. Most recently we met Augustus Waters in the novel, The Fault in Our Stars. You might recall an Augustus Rockwood from the Harry Potter series. But before that, Augustus Gloop charmed and delighted us in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Like Sylvia, the name Lisbeth offers a bit of mystery. The name is extremely popular in Denmark and Sweden. Some notable Lisbeths in literature include Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Lisbeth “Bette” Fischer from Honoré de Balzac’s La Cousine Bette. Both of these Lisbeths are tough, independent, and driven women.
Often the name Lisbeth is shortened to “Bette” or simply, “Bet.” Both are very cute and would be fun to say over and over again as your child ignores you.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic, The Great Gatsby features one of American literature’s most well-known characters, Jay Gatsby. While “Jay” would be a perfectly acceptable first name, we feel that Gatsby has the most appeal. Now, it’s understandable that you wouldn’t want your child to share too much with Jay Gatsby, but you can bestow upon him a classic name with Gatsby.
If you’d prefer to honor the writer, Fitzgerald would also make a great name. “It’s time for dinner Fitz,” just rolls off the tongue.
In the intro, we already brought up Little Women and the names Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Why not Louisa too? Louisa May Alcott published the children’s novel over 100 years ago and it’s still just as popular as ever. She wrote, strong, three-dimensional female characters that many young girls connect with still today. Alcott was a pioneering abolitionist and feminist and dedicated her life to the advancement of women through education and work.
The name Louisa means, “renowned warrior.” If you are looking for a strong name for your baby girl, Louisa is a fine choice.
For the romantics out there, Heathcliff makes an interesting and unique boy’s name. The passionate, macho hero of Emily Brontë’s novel Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff really shines in the first acts. Although Heathcliff’s luck takes a turn and his character devolves into an anti-hero, we can all remember the Heathcliff that passionately loved Catherine Earnshaw. In total, the character is an incredible one and really makes the entire novel.
The name means “cliff near a heath.” Not too much mystery with this name! “Heath” or “Cliff” are handsome nicknames.
There are so many fantastic characters named Hazel. There’s Hazel Motes from Flannery O’Connor’s novel, Wise Blood. Hazel Shade is the daughter of the poet John Shade in the novel Pale Fire. There’s Hazel the rabbit leader in the Richard Adams novel, Watership Down. So many great Hazels!
The name fell out of fashion in the early 20th century but has made a resurgence starting around 1998. The name is very popular in Ireland and ranks as one of the top 100 names for girls there.
Beckett is most commonly known as an English surname. Think of Nobel Prize winning writer, Samuel Beckett. Beckett wrote the classic, Waiting for Gadot. He is such a treasure to Ireland they named a major bridge for him. There are plenty of other notable Becketts, many of whom are Irish. If you’ve got Irish ancestry and would like to honor it, Beckett would be a great name to give your child.
“Beck” as a nickname is charming and would definitely stand out.
For your baby girl, Lyra is a fabulous literary name. Lyra Belacqua is the protagonist in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. The young girl is brave, adventurous, and smart. According to the mythology of the book, Lyra is “destined to bring about the end of destiny.” Intriguing, right? In addition to being an amazing character, Lyra is also name to a small constellation first found by the Greeks.
The name Lyra comes from the word lyre, which is a stringed musical instrument that dates back to antiquity. If you love strong female leads, music, stars, or a lyrical sounding name, Lyra is the perfect girls name for your baby.
For readers, William should be an extremely familiar name. Think of William Shakespeare, William Wordsworth, William Faulkner, and W.B. Yeats. In addition to being the name of some of the world’s most famous writers, there are some famous characters named William as well. William Boldwood in Far From the Madding Crowd and William from the Just William books are two great examples.
The name William is Germanic in origin and means “resolute protector.” If you want to raise a novelist, playwright, or poet, you could do no better than naming your child William.
Andrew is an Assistant Editor for Mamas Uncut with over ten years of experience as a writer in the creative, marketing, and blogging spaces. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a passion for telling stories in a variety of mediums. Obsessively making lists, reporting celebrity news, and diving into emerging pop cultural topics are a few of his interests.
- 0.1 Mark Twain
- 0.2 Toni Morrison
- 0.3 Herman Melville
- 0.4 Agatha Christie
- 0.5 J.R.R. Tolkien
- 0.6 Maya Angelou
- 0.7 Gabriel García Márquez
- 0.8 Fyodor Dostoevsky
- 0.9 James Joyce
- 0.10 Ursula K. Le Guin
- 0.11 Roald Dahl
- 0.12 Jacqueline Woodson
- 0.13 Frank Herbert
- 0.14 Mary Shelley and Percy Shelley
- 0.15 Alex Haley
- 0.16 Salman Rushdie
- 0.17 Gillian Flynn
- 0.18 Isaac Asimov
- 0.19 Kathleen Woodiwiss
- 0.20 George Orwell
- 0.21 Christopher Paul Curtis
- 0.22 Kwame Alexander
- 0.23 Barbara Cartland
- 0.24 Daphne Du Maurier
- 0.25 Edith Nesbit
- 1 20 Literary-Inspired Baby Names We Love
- 1.0.1 20. Gwendolyn
- 1.0.2 19. Harry
- 1.0.3 18. Emma
- 1.0.4 17. Henrik
- 1.0.5 16. Olivia
- 1.0.6 15. Athos
- 1.0.7 14. Matilda
- 1.0.8 13. Elwyn
- 1.0.9 12. Maya
- 1.0.10 11. Huxley
- 1.0.11 10. Sylvia
- 1.0.12 9. Augustus
- 1.0.13 8. Lisbeth
- 1.0.14 7. Gatsby
- 1.0.15 6. Louisa
- 1.0.16 5. Heathcliff
- 1.0.17 4. Hazel
- 1.0.18 3. Beckett
- 1.0.19 2. Lyra
- 1.0.20 1. William
Mamas Uncut is THE online place for moms. We cover the latest about motherhood, parenting, and entertainment as well – all with a mom-focused twist. So if you're looking for parenting advice from real parents, we have plenty of it, all for moms from moms, and also experts. Because, at the end of the day, our mission is focused solely on empowering moms and moms-to-be with the knowledge and answers they’re looking for in one safe space.
Baby Name Generator
No baby name sounding good? Want a quick way to generate unique baby name ideas? Try our baby name generator below!
Set your terms (sex of the baby, number of letters, popularity, etc.) and then get a list of names that meet your criteria. Maybe the perfect name is just waiting to be generated for you.