10 Literary Baby Names for 2021/22
August 9th is Book Lovers Day, so what better time to publish a selection of literary baby names that will make you swoon. From the traditional to the unconventional, here are the top 10 as picked by the N+Q team.
For babies being born during these turbulent times, it’s fitting to lean into names from the dystopian genre, and Aldous Huxley was one of the greats. While Huxley has already shot from obscurity to popularity in the last few years (this author has a Huxley of her own), Aldous is still little used and has a great old-world feel.
A unisex name that means “magnificent, majestic, venerable”, the French August(e) Dupin was the detective in Edgar Allen Poe’s mysteries. A popular Latin name, we love it for its balance of strength and subtlety and think it would work well both with quiet types or those with a bold character.
A regal name for any little chap, Caspian comes from the pages of one of Britains most beloved authors, C. S. Lewis. The Narnia reference won’t be lost on fans, but even those unfamiliar with the books are sure to love this choice of names.
No literary list would be complete without at least one Shakespeare reference (spoiler: our list includes two), and this one’s a doozy. Featuring in three of Shakespeare’s plays, the name Demetrius obviously found a soft spot with the famed author, and we’d have to agree it’s a show-stopper.
Charles Dicken’s Great Expectations is a literary classic, and this girls name is equally timeless. Meaning “star”, Estella is a name your little one is unlikely to have to share with anyone in their class, thanks to its reasonably low uptake among parents in the UK.
Turning to book names can be a great way to come up with a baby name that is neither too obscure nor commonplace.
A strong name from Erica Jong’s feminist novel, Fear of Flying, Isadora is a must for any bold, determined little girl. Although it’s a name that is gaining in popularity, it’s still far from being commonplace. And how cute is “Issy”?!
A name that needs no introduction, Matilda is the epitome of a beautiful literary-inspired name. The protagonist of Roald Dahl’s fantastic book, Matilda ranked as the 30th most popular girls name in the UK when records were last published in 2019. While it may not be as obscure as others on our list, this one simply can’t be overlooked.
Another Charles Dickens reference, Oliver, is an excellent choice for those who want to give a nod to the classics without straying too far off the beaten track. Oliver often ranks in the Top 10 boys names in the UK and is sure to remain a popular choice for years to come.
The tortured soul in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia, inspired great artists, notably Sir John Everett Millais, whose painting hangs in the gallery of Tate Britain. Though she comes to an untimely end, Ophelia's love and grace are symbolic of femininity and continue to make this a popular name choice for literary-minded parents.
Last on our list, Sylvia is another bittersweet name taken from the novelist and poet Sylvia Plath. A central figure in American literature, Sylvia’s confessional poetry highlighted injustices and brought a voice to women everywhere. Meaning “from the forest”, this beautiful name will never go out of favour.
Originally from New Zealand, Sarah is a mother to two boys and has lived in the UK for the past ten years. She is a home educator, freelance writer, Netflix-binger and has a penchant for strong black coffee.