Literary Names You WOULD Give Your Children

Jennifer Paull

Staff Writer

Jennifer Paull walks quickly.

Prompted by the great responses to the earlier rundown of names I’d never give my kids based on the literary associations, let’s think positive and ruminate on which names would be favorite choices.

It’s one of those cerebral cortex moments: Certain characters or authors and their names imprint deeply and happily. You can end up incorrigibly partial to names otherwise ordinary (Jane) or unusual (Wendy, which J. M. Barrie may have made up). Not every beloved character carries over into the fantasy name list, though. Certain names set too high a bar. Atticus, for instance—to me, it’s so noble it’s stifling. Arjuna’s a pretty succulent name, but is the archer hero of the Mahabharata too much to live up to?

Below are a few longtime favorites on my list.

I’ll always have a soft spot for this thanks to The Witch of Blackbird Pond. A captain’s son who saves the cat when superstitious Puritans torch Hannah Tupper’s house? That could only be a good influence.


You’d have your hands full with a girl named after Raymond Queneau’s heroine. But she’d be predisposed to be curious, sharp with word games, cool with the occasional drag queen, and down with public transit.

I loved the ordinary boy who goes through the Phantom Tollbooth at the novel’s start, and his awakened sense of purpose and appreciation at the end. I like to think that a kid named Milo would have a sense of adventure, while still having empathy for more tentative folks. And be good behind the wheel.


For George, not T. S.! Help set the kid up for a generous worldview, while also hinting that it’s OK to sometimes kick social convention to the curb.


How about you: Which literary names would you choose, and why?