Finding a unique, meaningful name for your child can be tough. You could try hipster or foreign names if you want to avoid the mainstream variety. Or you could go more traditional and find a Biblical name.

However, there’s another source to tap into before you make your final decision: literature. With thousands of books to choose from, there’s no shortage of interesting character names to peruse.

At MooseRoots, we did the work for you and found 25 of the most popular literary names in the U.S., using data from the Social Security Administration. Names are ranked by their 2024 popularity.

Key Takeaways:

  • Scarlett from Gone With the Wind is the #1 most popular literary name
  • Other top names include Bella, Hazel, Sawyer, Finn, and Atticus
  • Literary names span from Shakespeare to John Green novels
  • Some surprising picks like Ford Prefect from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Let’s see what literary characters made the list of the 25 most popular book character names:

#25. Winnie

Literary Character: Winnie Foster, “Tuck Everlasting”
U.S. Rank: 1,417

Frequently used as a nickname for Winifred, Winnie has also gained popularity as a stand-alone name. Following the popular novel’s release, the name may have also received a boost from the two film adaptations.

#24. Scout

Literary Character: Jean “Scout” Finch, “To Kill a Mockingbird”
U.S. Rank: 1,188

Scout is growing in popularity as both a girl’s and boy’s name, although the name is more common for girls. The 2015 release of Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman” may further boost the name’s usage.

#23. Ophelia

Literary Character: Ophelia, “Hamlet”
U.S. Rank: 1,120

As a girl’s name, Ophelia is trending way up in the U.S. This is somewhat surprising given the character’s tragic fate.

#22. Ramona

Literary Character: Ramona Quimby, Beverly Cleary novels
U.S. Rank: 1,089

The rambunctious and imaginative Ramona Quimby is one the central characters in Beverly Cleary’s popular young adult and children’s books.

#21. Jean

Literary Character: Jean Valjean, “Les Misérables”
U.S. Rank: 1,063

Although trending down, the boy’s name Jean is still more popular than the girl’s name. Not even Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of the character could boost its popularity.

#20. Ford

Literary Character: Ford Prefect, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”
U.S. Rank: 883

Ford Prefect serves as the reader’s guide to the universe throughout Douglas Adams’ satirical space novel. In the past decade, the name Ford has dramatically increased in popularity.

#19. Ariadne

Literary Character: Ariadne Oliver, Agatha Christie novels
U.S. Rank: 801

Ariadne’s literary origins go back to classical mythology, but the name was perhaps made most famous by the recurring character in Agatha Christie’s detective novels. Ariadne has appeared in nine Christie novels.

#18. Alma

Literary Character: Alma Mereminski, “The History of Love”
U.S. Rank: 680

Although Alma may be more recognized as one of protagonists of Nicole Krauss’ “The History of Love,” the name was also used in Tennessee Williams’ play “Summer and Smoke.”

#17. Pearl

Literary Character: Pearl, “The Scarlet Letter”
U.S. Rank: 628

As the illegitimate daughter of Hester Prynne, Pearl is a symbolic character in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter.” The name is trending up in the U.S.

#16. Matilda

Literary Character: Matilda Wormwood, “Matilda”
U.S. Rank: 583

From Augustus Gloop to Agatha Trunchbull, the stories of Roald Dahl have no shortage of unique names to choose from. Unlike some of Dahl’s more outlandish names, Matilda has gained traction in the U.S.

#15. Augustus

Literary Character: Augustus Waters, “The Fault in Our Stars”
U.S. Rank: 544

Meaning “great” or “magnificent,” Augustus saw an increase in popularity after the release of John Green’s novel in 2012. Will the 2014 film adaptation also boost the name’s rank?

#14. Dorian

Literary Character: Dorian Gray, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”
U.S. Rank: 535

Despite the dark story that inspired it, Dorian is still a moderately common name for males. The name’s popularity peaked in 2000 and has gradually been trending down since.

#13. Jay

Literary Character: Jay Gatsby, “The Great Gatsby”
U.S. Rank: 372

Although still in the top 400 male U.S. baby names, Jay has slowly been losing popularity over the last several decades.

#12. Atticus

Literary Character: Atticus Finch, “To Kill a Mockingbird”
U.S. Rank: 370

If you’re hoping your son becomes an honorable lawyer, consider naming him Atticus. Interestingly, the character of Atticus Finch was based on Harper Lee’s own father, Amasa Coleman Lee.

#11. Romeo

Literary Character: Romeo Montague, “Romeo and Juliet”
U.S. Rank: 341

Made famous from Shakespeare’s tragic play, Romeo also experienced a surge in popularity after David and Victoria Beckham gave the name to their second son.

#10. Rhett

Literary Character: Rhett Butler, “Gone With the Wind”
U.S. Rank: 338

Already an iconic character, Rhett gained further prominence after Clark Gable’s portrayal of him in the 1939 film.

#9. Holden

Literary Character: Holden Caulfield, “The Catcher in the Rye”
U.S. Rank: 292

The name Holden didn’t immediately become popular after the release of “The Catcher in the Rye” in 1951. In the last decade, however, the name has become more commonplace.

#8. Juliet

Literary Character: Juliet Capulet, “Romeo and Juliet”
U.S. Rank: 258

Shakespeare has no shortage of interesting names to choose from. Although Juliette is slightly more common, the Shakespearean version is still a trendy girl’s name in the U.S.

#7. Finn

Literary Character: Huckleberry Finn, “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”
U.S. Rank: 234

The first of two Mark Twain characters on this list, Huck Finn is certainly one of the most iconic characters in American literature. Finn is gaining popularity as a first name.

#6. Daisy

Literary Character: Daisy Buchanan, “The Great Gatsby”
U.S. Rank: 180

Even with the release of the 2013 “Great Gatsby” film, the name Daisy has generally been trending down in the U.S. over the last decade.

#5. Sawyer

Literary Character: Tom Sawyer, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”
U.S. Rank: 110

As a first name, Sawyer has dramatically grown in popularity. Mark Twain may have based the fictional character’s name on a heroic fireman he met in San Francisco, California.

#4. Hazel

Literary Character: Hazel Lancaster, “The Fault in Our Stars”
U.S. Rank: 107

John Green’s novel has sold more than 10.7 million copies and has no doubt contributed to the rising popularity of the name Hazel.

#3. Bella

Literary Character: Bella Swan, “Twilight Series”
U.S. Rank: 70

One of the most recent literary characters on this list, Bella Swan was the protagonist of the popular “Twilight” novels.

#2. Landon

Literary Character: Landon Carter, “A Walk to Remember”
U.S. Rank: 43

Landon is one of Nicholas Sparks’ most famous characters. The name increased in popularity after the release of the 1999 novel and the 2002 film.

#1. Scarlett

Literary Character: Scarlett O’Hara, “Gone With the Wind”
U.S. Rank: 30

Nearly 6,000 newborns were named Scarlett in 2014. Interestingly, the name is more popular than its ever been—an impressive testament to the classic 1936 novel.

Wrapping Up

The world of literature is replete with names that have transcended pages to become a part of our cultural fabric.

These names not only reflect the depth and complexities of the characters they represent but also embody the timeless themes and universal truths found in great literature.

As we revisit the most popular literary names, we are reminded of the power of words to create unforgettable characters and the enduring impact of literature in shaping our world.

Research Names on MooseRoots

Read more: 10 Books That Inspired Me