Literary Feminists To Inspire Your Baby Name

by Charlotte Ahlin

So you need a name for your new child, puppy, or houseplant. And you like to read, so you're looking through names for literary characters. But you're also a feminist who's not especially interested in naming her baby Katniss or Khaleesi (although I'm sure all you little Katnisses out there will grown up just fine). Lucky for you, there are many, many fierce female characters from literature with names you might actually want to give a living human child. Here are a few feminist baby names from books.

Whether you're looking for a classic name with a bit of literary flavor, or a completely unique name that will impress all the other moms on the playground, there's a book out there with the right name for you. Channel mighty female warriors, or clever girls with quick wits, or genuinely kind women who persevere through every challenge. Maybe you even want to venture into the wilds of sci-fi and fantasy to hunt down the perfect name. Whichever genre you pick, give your kid a name that will inspire them to do great things, no matter what their gender (and yes, I give you full permission to use any of these names for boys too, because feminism is for everybody).

So here are some lovely, literary names for your future feminist:


Matilda, 'Matilda' by Roald Dahl

Is there any better name for a bookworm's baby? Sure, Roald Dahl's stories can get pretty weird, but he knew how to write sharp, book-loving girls.


Hermione, 'The Harry Potter Series' by J.K. Rowling

Yeah, I know it's a bit on the nose. What can I say? Hermione Granger is the patron saint of smart, merciless women. And yes, it's an odd name right now, but just wait twenty years, and I guarantee we'll be seeing college campuses full of Hermiones.


Jane, 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Brontë

Mr. Rochester's kind of the worst, but Jane is a stone cold badass from day one. She's intelligent, passionate, and refuses to put up with anyone's B.S. (you'd better believe she's going to walk out on you if you have a secret wife hidden in the attic).


Celie, 'The Color Purple' by Alice Walker

Celie is oppressed and abused by men for most of her life. But she comes into her own, finds love and support in the women around her, and saves herself from a life of despair like the incredible feminist icon she is.


Jo, 'Little Women' by Louisa May Alcott

Jo March is the reckless, creative, obnoxious girl that we should all aspire to be. She's a total mess, she refuses to care about gender norms, and she reads voraciously. What more could you want for your baby?


Lilith, 'Lilith's Brood' by Octavia Butler

The mythical Lilith demanded that she be treated the same as men, and so she was banished to become the mother of demons and monsters. Octavia Butler's Lilith lives in a post-apocalyptic world, and she becomes the mother of a new era of humanity. Either way, it's a beautiful name with a fiercely feminist history.


Beatrice, 'Much Ado About Nothing' by William Shakespeare

There are so many tough, smart, and cross-dressing ladies from Shakespeare. Rosalind, Imogen, and Viola are all beautiful names... but when it comes to wickedly intelligent, sarcastic women, Beatrice is the winner by a long shot.


Meg, 'A Wrinkle in Time' by Madeleine L'Engle

"Meg" is the perfect nickname for any future mathematicians out there. Meg Murray from A Wrinkle in Time might be a little awkward in school, but she's a math whiz with a big heart, and that's what matters most on a space adventure.


Brienne, 'A Song of Ice and Fire' by George R.R. Martin

You can keep your Daeneryses, your Khaleesis, and even your Aryas. I maintain that Brienne of Tarth has one of the most beautiful names in A Song of Ice and Fire. She's also one of the kindest, most loyal, most gender non-conforming characters in the books, and she can still kill you with a sword in no time flat.


Violet, 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' by Lemony Snicket

If you suspect your future child will have a mechanical mind, consider "Violet." True, Violet Baudelaire from A Series of Unfortunate Events lives a rather unfortunate life, but her inventions and quick-thinking save the day time and time again.


Lyra, "His Dark Materials" by Philip Pullman

Firstly, "Lyra" is a beautiful name that comes from a constellation. Secondly, Lyra is a scrappy little girl and a brilliant liar who's trying to save the universe, and thirdly (spoiler alert), she kind of overcomes death and destroys God (but in a nice way... read the books). Sounds like the perfect name to me.


Alanna, "Song of the Lioness" by Tamora Pierce

Sometimes you just want to dress up in men's clothes and be a hardcore lady knight in a fantasy world. "Alanna" is the perfect tribute to women warriors, without being an overtly fantastical name.


Janie, 'Their Eyes Were Watching God' by Zora Neal Hurston

"Janie" might just be a slight variation on "Jane," but it's a far more unique name, and adorable to boot. Janie Crawford from Their Eyes Were Watching God overcomes traditional roles for women on her journey towards self-discovery. She makes it through three marriages, emerging as a self-possessed woman in her own right.