Celebrity Names Blog

The Greatest Literary Characters and Their Modern Name Equivalents

The Greatest Literary Characters and Their Modern Name Equivalents
The Great Gatsby

For many, the great joy of American literature of the early and mid-20th century was the lively and fascinating characters. We decided to stack up some of the names of those classic characters with their contemporary pop culture name equivalents. 

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote many great novels filled with wonderful characters, but perhaps his most memorable creation is the ambitious and mysterious Jay Gatsby. Jay was a fairly popular name in the 1920s when The Great Gatsby was published and peaked in the 1960s, but has since declined in popularity. Both of the most well-known pop culture figures with the name Jay, Jay Leno and Jay-Z, are not particularly reminiscent of each other or Jay Gatsby.

Speaking of the 1920s, the rowdy, decadent, but complicated characters in Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises is partially what makes that American classic so much fun. Jake, Mike and Bill have all been classic, if not chart-topping names, for many years. However, the star of this story is the independent Lady Brett Ashley. Although there are a few well-known female Bretts, the name never took off the way it did for males. Hemingway portrayed Lady Brett as a liberated woman, who exerted a great deal of power on the men around her. The most famous contemporary Brett, quarterback Brett Favre, does the same, but in a slightly different way. 

Some of the most memorable characters in American literature came from J.D. Salinger's novels. Although the most obvious one, Holden, has only recently been gaining in popularity, there are many other famous counterparts. Zooey Deschanel has publicly stated that she was named after the character Zooey Glass from Salinger's novel Franny and Zooey. Esmé, a name featured in the story "For Esmé - with Love and Squalor," is not only the name of a loving vampire in the Twilight novels; it is also the name of several celebrity babies. Samantha Morton, Michael J. Fox and Olivia Williams all have daughters named Esmé. 

Who are some of your favorite literary characters with interesting names and who has those names today? 



Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

February 15, 2012 12:52 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

SIGH! If either of my boyz had been a girl, we would have a little Esme. It's almost (almost!) enough to try for another. :)

February 15, 2012 12:56 PM
By Annee (not verified)

I have been trying on every Baby Name Poll site to get folks to use Sybylla, after the title character in "My Brilliant Career" ... ;-) I usally try to sell it as an alternative to Isabella, but they usually don't bite. I have no idea why not ... :o[]

February 21, 2012 3:20 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

We have a son Jonas, and the biggest inspiration for that was the young-adult novel The Giver by Lois Lowry. I've tried to think of other literary names I could use for future children, but most of my favorite novels either have protagonists with normal names or completely bizarre ones.

February 21, 2012 4:23 PM
By Stephanie (not verified)

Among others, Atticus! The character of Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird is a great namesake, and Atticus is really cool and not overused.

February 22, 2012 11:06 PM
By Zoe (not verified)

Stephanie: Don't forget Scout! That one has been used a couple times by celebs.

February 24, 2012 8:45 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I also adore Esme, but worry about the Twilight association and its possible trendiness. Sigh. It's still on the list if I have a girl, though.

November 23, 2014 8:42 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Yes that's right it is the biggest inspiration for the young adupt people where we found the fantastic novel by the Giver by Lois Lowry

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.