16 Unusual Baby Girl Names Borrowed From Our Favorite Books

Caroline Olney | Aug 9, 2016 Pregnancy

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From Elizabeth Bennet to Hermione Granger, literature is stuffed full of incredible heroines just waiting for a future mom and dad to rip off their name and give it to their baby. Or, as it politely is called, "borrowing" their name and giving it to their baby. Either way, these ladies have strength and grace and any baby girl would be lucky to wear a name blessed by the fictional heroines of our favorite books. 

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There are obviously a million to choose from, but we picked 16 of our favorites -- these leading ladies had to have a great story and a great name to pass our test, plus be a little unexpected. For the record, it really pained us to not put Alice or Scarlett O'Hara or Jo March on this list (those and many other favorites can be found here), but we really committed to being unexpected. We thought back to our favorite books from when we were younger and wanted to make a list that included some personal favorites as well. That said, all these names are great choices and any would be perfect for a baby girl.

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Click through and see if any of these literary girls' names bring back the warm, cozy feeling of reading these beloved books! 

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  • Arwen

    1
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    Arwen is the super-cool, super-badass half-elf from Lord of the Rings. Is it nerdy to name your baby after a fantasy book? Maybe. But Arwen is a gorgeous name, so who really cares?

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  • Briony

    2
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    In Ian McEwen's stellar 2001 novel Atonement, he writes about 13-year-old Briony Tallis, an aspiring writer and creative spirit who drives the story's main plot. The name itself is young-spirited and as noble as the girl herself, and it's a lovely -- if unusual -- choice for girls.

  • Celie

    3

    The Color Purple won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and it is, by all accounts, a masterpiece. The main character's name is Celie, and she's as strong and resilient as you'd want any baby girl to be. Celie is a sweet and gentle name that hints at what's underneath the character's tough skin. It might sound similar to Celia and Cecile, but it's just different enough to catch our eye.

  • Fern

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    As a name, Fern sounds as willowy and peaceful as the plant it comes from. All that is multiplied by a million when it's connected to Fern Avery, the girl who takes care of Charlotte and Wilbur in E.B. White's classic Charlotte's Web

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  • Clarissa

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    Clarissa Dalloway is the complex heroine of Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, and her melodic name speaks to her class and kindness. It has the same ring as more common names like Marissa and Clara, but combines them in an unexpected way.

  • Connie

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    In Lady Chatterley's Lover, Connie's full name is Constance. One version of Lady Chatterley is young and playful while the other is cool and reserved, but we love both names equally. We also love Connie Chatterley's dynamic presence and strong will -- plus her devious way with men.

  • Dolores

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    Vladamir Nabokov's Lolita might seem like a strange place to choose a baby name from, but hear us out: If you look at Lolita (who's real name is Dolores Haze) outside of the context of Humbert, she's a strong-willed, playful, creative, and magnetic presense. All good things. Plus, Dolores is one of our favorite old-fashioned names of all time, so we had to put Lolita on the list.

  • Dorothea

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    The name Dorothy gets a serious upgrade at the hands of Dorothea Brooke, the heroine of Middlemarch by George Elliot. In the novel, Dorothea is as smart as she is driven, and she was a total 19th century badass. Today, the name Dorothea could be shortened to Dottie or Thea, both of which have a lovely old-school charm.

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  • Elinor

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    Eleanor isn't an uncommon name, but the spelling Elinor is. It's sensible and classically sweet, just like Elinor Dashwood, its namesake character and the protagonist of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility

  • Harriet

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    Oh, come on. You loved this book. Harriet was the coolest girl ever when we first read these books as kids, and any baby named after Harriet M. Welsch will undoubtedly be the coolest girl ever as she grows up.

  • Janie

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    Janie Crawford is the protagonist of Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God. The story follows her as she grows from a vibrant, spirited teen to a powerful and autonomous woman, and we loved watching how the flexible name Janie molded and stretched to fit her every step of the way. 

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  • Lux

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    In The Virgin Suicides, Lux Lisbon is one of the Lisbon sisters who, yes, commits suicide, but has a very cool name while living. Lux has an undeniable edge to it (both the name and the character, for the record) and it's as cool as it is mysterious.

  • Hester

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    Our favorite 17th century queen Hester Prynne was a total badass and a total babe, and she had spirit and dignity in equal measures, despite the scarlet letter on her chest. Hester is a name with just as much resilience as the character herself, and it's the perfect amount of "out there" for moms looking for something a little different.

  • Matilda

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    Before it was a movie or a play, Matilda was a book by Roald Dahl about a precocious and super-smart (and super-powered) girl with a heart of gold. Matilda is an old and classic name, but the reference to one of the greatest children's books of all time freshens it up.

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  • Penelope

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    Penelope had its day as a popular name, but it's not heard so much anymore. We don't get why -- it's plucky and fun, and dates all the way back to Homer and The Odyssey, in which Penelope is the kind and intelligent wife of Odysseus.

  • Pollyanna

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    Pollyanna is another classic children's book with worthy namesake. The character Pollyanna is so cheery and optimistic, the name has snuck into day-to-day life: In psychology, the "Pollyanna principle" describes our tendency to remember pleasant memories more than unpleasant ones, and if you call someone a Pollyanna, you're saying they always look on the bright side. So clearly, it's a good name choice. Plus, Polly and Anna are both adorable nicknames.

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