The Literary Baby Name Dictionary

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The world of celebrity baby-naming is an odd and occasionally alarming one. But we have to say, the latest trend is one we can get down with: Both Neil Patrick Harris and the Beckhams named their baby daughters Harper, after the author of To Kill a Mockingbird. And it got us thinking about other literature-inspired names that might be sweeping the ranks soon. Maybe Eudora will make a comeback in homage to Miss Welty? Perhaps Huck will sweep the naming registers? After all, the current number one names — Isabella and Jacob — have the Twilight series to thank. Below, our abridged list of literary baby names and what they mean.

Anna

Virtuous, but very jealous. Has difficulty changing her career

Literary sources: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Anna Christie by Eugene O’Neill

Anton

Studious, ambitious, and dedicated. Kind of creepy

Literary sources: Anton Chekhov, Anton LaVey, No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

Atticus

A folk hero, willing to stand up for someone else

Literary sources: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Keeper by Greg Rucka

Auden

Intelligent, detached, a world traveler

Literary source: W.H. Auden

Beckett

Bright, analytic, often frustrated, delights in the absurd

Literary source: Samuel Beckett

Benjy

Has difficulty dealing with people, emotionally perceptive, loves the outdoors

Literary source: The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

Boo

Reclusive, lonely, good-hearted

Literary source: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Cormac

Southern, shy, guards his personal life

Literary source: Cormac McCarthy

Daisy

Flighty, beautiful, loves money

Literary source: The Great Gatsby

Emma

Quick-witted, lively, pretty, a little spoiled

Literary source: Emma by Jane Austen

Ernest

Handsome, a wastrel, loves hunting and driving

Literary sources: Ernest Hemingway, The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Eudora

Well-read, grounded, warm

Literary source: Eudora Welty

Eugene

A pessimist, lyrical, nervous

Literary sources: Eugene O’Neill, Eugenio Montale

Flannery

Religious, loves peacocks, has difficulties with her health

Literary source: Flannery O’Connor

Florence

Sexually repressed, has serious daddy issues

Literary sources: Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens, On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

Ford

Exalted, jealous, a womanizing rake

Literary sources: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

George

Politically active, clever, dramatic

Literary sources: George Orwell, George Bernard Shaw

Gulliver

Adventurous, pioneering, unlucky

Literary source: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

Gustav

Philosophical, scrupulous, serious

Literary sources: Death in Venice by Thomas Mann, Gustave Flaubert

Harper

Brilliant, Southern, a recluse

Literary sources: Harper Lee

Herman

Under-appreciated in his lifetime, bearded, obsessed with detail

Literary source: Herman Melville

Hester

Courageous, scorned, socially repressed

Literary source: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Holden

Intelligent, angsty, rebellious, ruthless

Literary sources: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

Homer

Poetic, mysterious, beloved

Literary sources: Homer, The Cider House Rules by John Irving

Huck

A fun-loving vagabond, carefree, brave

Literary source: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Humbert

Romantic, weak, lecherous

Literary source: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Ishmael

Obsessive, brooding, dark

Literary source: Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Jay

New money, has a secret past, good-hearted

Literary source: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Jean-Paul

Well-spoken, smart, but a terrible boyfriend

Literary source: Jean-Paul Sartre

Jim

Shrewd, polite, friendly

Literary source: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Leopold

A chameleon, loves sweetbreads, tolerant

Literary source: Ulysses by James Joyce

Lily

Sweet, hesitant, selfless

Literary sources: To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Meg

Beautiful, responsible, happy

Literary source: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Molly, Mollie

Self-centered and vain or faithful but frigid

Literary sources: Ulysses by James Joyce, Animal Farm by George Orwell

Myrtle

Duplicitous, annoying, a downer

Literary sources: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Ophelia

Disheveled, melancholy, passionate, mad

Literary source: Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Oscar

Flamboyant, intellectual, fashionable

Literary source: Oscar Wilde

Roald

Has a dark sense of humor and a fabulous imagination

Literary source: Roald Dahl

Romeo

Sweet, young, and doomed

Literary source: Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare

Rose of Sharon

Fragile, fertile, selfless

Literary source: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Sal

Reckless, restless, on a perpetual search for kicks

Literary source: On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Salman

Precise, sweeping, politically active

Literary source: Salman Rushdie

Stephen

Has an eye for the grotesque, outspoken, intense

Literary sources: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce, Stephen Crane, Stephen King

Tom

A rambunctious young lad or the source of slave-related stereotypes

Literary sources: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Truman

Loves parties, charming, quippy

Literary source: Truman Capote

Virginia

Anxious, smart, moody

Literary source: Virginia Woolf

Willa

Nostalgic, serious, a loner

Literary source: Willa Cather

William

Masterful, groundbreaking, prone to many vices

Literary sources: William Shakespeare, William Faulkner, William S. Borroughs

Yossarian

Paranoid, compulsive, resourceful

Literary source: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Zola

Liberal, leftist, sharp, successful

Literary source: Emile Zola