12 Baby Names Based On Authors

by Caitlin White

Naming your newborn can be one of the toughest decisions. But if both you and your partner (or your parents or your siblings or whomever else inserts themselves in the decision) are book nerds, baby names based on authors can be a great way to go.

Maybe you bonded over a mutual love of Maya Angelou's I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings on your online dating profile. Maya is a beautiful name. Maybe you met during a college group project on Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. You can pay homage by naming your kiddo Leo. Last names work, too. If you're both hooked on Dorothy Parker, but don't want to name your child after the girl who went over the rainbow, try Parker instead. Either first or last can work with Gwendolyn Brooks, Anne Tyler, or Samuel Beckett. You will definitely be able to find at least a name or two you can agree on.

Sure, lots of people name their little ones after literary characters, but by choosing an author's name instead, you can celebrate their entire career and influence on the publishing (and outside) world. For some more ideas, check out these 12 baby names based on authors, and see if any spark inspiration for your newborn.

1. Zadie

Author: Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith captured our hearts and the world's attention with her thought-provoking books White Teeth, NW, On Beauty, and others. No promises that your daughter will grow up to be a literary prodigy, but maybe the name will spark her to follow her passions at a young age as well.

2. Willa

Author: Willa Cather

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of My Ántonia and other novels about prairie life struggled most of her life against rigid gender roles. Despite some controversy about her opinions on the Dust Bowl and Great Depression, Willa (who sometimes went as William) was far ahead of her time breaking the barriers around gender conformity, and she is an inspiration in that way for a new generation.

3. Adrienne

Author: Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich is an iconic feminist poet and writer who writes about motherhood, lesbianism, and women's rights issues, bringing them to the forefront of literary and cultural conversation. Needless to say, your little feminist would rock this name.

4. Arundhati

Author: Arundhati Roy

Acclaimed writer Arundhati Roy is a passionate activist for social justice and economic equality, in the U.S. and across the globe. Spread some of that compassion to your children with the name Arundhati.

5. Victor Hugo

Author: Victor Hugo

I put both first and last name of the Les Miserables author because you could name your child Victor, but I prefer Hugo. And if you take that name for my imaginary son we'll have to meet up and make our children BFFs.

6. Isabel

Author: Isabel Allende

It's only appropriate that Isabel Allende's most beloved work (if we have to pick) is The House of the Spirits, a book focused on many generations of one family. Sure you could name your child after one of the characters, but why not go straight to the source with Isabel.

7. Flannery

Author: Flannery O'Connor

Flannery O'Connor broke into an "old boys' club" of literature and reminded everyone that while Gothic fiction may widely be considered invented by Horace Walpole, women like Mary Shelley, Clara Reeve, Ann Radcliffe made it what it is.

8. Walker

Author: Alice Walker

If you think "Alice" and "books," there are so many options that might spring up in your mind. But go with "Walker" for your son or daughter and it's clear you're talking about the incomparable Alice Walker.

9. Harper

Author: Harper Lee

Quick-witted, sharp, and compassionate, Harper Lee is an incredible person to pay homage to through your kid's name. (If you can get over Go Set a Watchman.) Though if you really want to attribute the name to Harper, you should go with "Nelle," which is what all of the author's friends called her.

10. Zora

Author: Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston was one of the most important writers out of the Harlem Renaissance and you can keep her spirit alive by giving your little one her beautiful name.

11. Charlotte

Authors: Charlotte Brontë, Charlotte Perkins Gilman

If you want a literary icon name, you can't go wrong with Charlotte. (I like to think this is what inspired Kate Middleton.) Whether you want to celebrate your favorite Brontë sister or a bold feminist writer, Charlotte is the best name.

12. Gabriel

Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez

If the name Gabriel is good enough for the writer behind the masterpieces One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera, then I'd say it's good enough for a baby.

Images: London Scout/Unsplash; Aime Dupont Studio, New York/Bibliothèque nationale de France/Wikimedia Commons