Are you searching for the perfect name for your new arrival? Love books? Then look no further: here's a list of the top 12 baby names for girls taken from literature.
Elizabeth (or Lizzy) Bennet is the protagonist of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Intelligent and independent, Elizabeth is described as having “a lively, playful disposition”. Other literary Elizabeths include Elizabeth Pringle (The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle, by Kirsty Wark), Elizabeth Barrett Browning (influential Victorian poet), and Elizabeth Gaskell (author of North and South and Cranford).
Continuing with the Pride and Prejudice theme, Lydia Bennet is Elizabeth’s youngest sister, who goes on to marry the dashing but rather questionable George Wickham. Lydia is also a biblical name: Lydia of Thyatira was the apostle Paul’s first convert in Philippi, meaning that she was the first convert to Christianity in Europe.
Hazel Grace Lancaster is the protagonist of John Green’s novel, The Fault in Our Stars. Suffering from stage four thyroid cancer, Hazel offers a realistic and compassionate view of living with terminal illness. Other literary Hazels include Hazel Motes from Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor, Hazel Levesque from Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series, and it is also the name of a rabbit in Watership Down by Richard Adams.
Alice is the heroine of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Described as “loving and gentle” and “wildly curious”, Alice is the perfect namesake for any imaginative child. Other literary Alices include Alice McKinley from theAlice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Alice Walker (author of The Color Purple), and Alice Munro (author of Runaway and Nobel Prize winner).
Hester Prynne is the main character in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. A woman condemned by her Puritan neighbours, Hester’s inner strength and honesty are what shines through. Another notable Hester is Hester Shaw in the Mortal Engines series by Philip Reeve.
The name Coraline is often thought to have originated with Neil Gaiman’s dark fantasy novella, Coraline, but is actually an unusual Greek name. Coraline Jones is curious and intelligent, and likes to explore: this love of adventure is what leads her to meet the Other Mother, a copy of her own mother, but with buttons instead of eyes. It is Coraline’s resourcefulness and courage that leads her to free the ghost children and her real parents so they can return to their normal life.
Jo (short for Josephine) March is the strong-willed and boyish main character in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Other literary Josehines include Jo Enright (The Lottie Project, by Jacqueline Wilson) and Josephine Miles (American poet and literary critic).
Viola is the heroine of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. When her and her twin brother Sebastian are shipwrecked and separated on the shores of Illyria, she believes him to have drowned. In order to survive in this strange and uknown land, Viola is forced to disguise herself as a young eunuch named Cesario in order to serve the Duke Orsino.
Estella Havisham is the adopted daughter of the infamous Miss Havisham in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. Beautiful and wealthy, Estella represents the life that the novel’s hero, Pip, strives for. Estella is an unusual twist on the more popular name Stella, which was the name famously yelled by Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire.
Lyra is a constellation name, which was taken from the lyre of Orpheus, and is associated with music, astronomy and mythology. The most famous Lyra in literature is Lyra Belacqua, also known as Lyra Silvertongue from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. Lyra is tomboyish, and in the beginning of the series spends much of her time with the other children in the parallel Oxford she inhabits. Later, she proves herself to be selfless and courageous as she sacrifices her personal relationship with Will in order to save the world from the Spectres.
Beatrice is another name taken from Shakespeare, this time from Much Ado About Nothing. Beatrice is one of Shakespeare’s most talkative and witty characters, often giving the impression that she is hardened and sharp, whilst actually being vulnerable. Other notable Beatrices in literature include Beatrice Baudelaire (A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket), Beatrice Carbone (A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller) and Beatrice, a soul in Dante’s Divine Comedy.
Daisy Buchanan is the focal character in The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Based on Fitzgerald’s lover, Ginevra King, Daisy is falsely idolized by Gatsby. Although beautiful and charming, Daisy Buchanan appears selfish and shallow; the exact opposite of what she presents herself to be. Another literary Daisy is Daisy Miller, the title character of the novel by Henry Miller.