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A Literary Halloween: 20 Female Book Characters to Dress Up As!

Looking for creative costume ideas based on female book characters? These iconic looks and ideas from literature are sure to be a hit!

Monsters, sexy pirates or maids, witches, or a favorite fairy tale character are often the costume of choice at this time of year, but what about for us book fans? Can we think of something just a little more imaginative?

With Halloween weeks away, I wanted to do a short post about some literary female character costume ideas and the female literary characters I think would be good fun to dress up as for Halloween. (If I ever had the time to do anything other than don a witch hat and a wand and was actually good with a sewing needle. But, hey, there’s always Etsy!)

When I was growing up, my costume choices were much more inventive and tended to favor characters from the movies. Even then, my costumes adapted from movie characters were also those originally found in literature.

Looking back, my favorite was Scarlett from Gone with the Wind. Kindly, my grandmother made it for me when I was eleven. 

But being an adult shouldn’t stop us from dressing up in equally creative costumes. Here are just 20 ideas from literature (or an example from literature adapted for the big screen) that would make some great costumes!

So, be creative, use your imagination (the character doesn’t have to look like the movies either), and let me know what literary characters you would love to dress up as for Halloween!

(Note: This article was first published in 2013 and has been updated for October 2020.)

A Literary Halloween: Female Book Characters

(In No Particular Order)

#1: Tally from The Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld

Uglies Series - Specials Book Cover

I would go with her look from The Specials because the makeup is weirdly beautiful and unusual. Overall, the dystopian makeup look would be a total standout. Plus, what better time now that there is finally an adaptation in the works?

#2: The White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia

The White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia - Female Book Character Ideas
Photo Credit: Walden Media/ Walt Disney Pictures

Who doesn’t want to dress up as a gorgeous, cold villain from time to time?

#3: Anne Shirley from The Anne of Green Gables Book Series

Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables and Anne with an E - Female Book Characters Costume Ideas
Photo Credits: Sullivan Entertainment and Netflix

Young or old, you can try Anne’s different looks depending on her age. And, with several adaptations over the years, there are so many costumes to choose from!

#4 Emily Byrd Starr from Emily of New Moon

Emily of New Moon Book Trilogy Covers

While not as familiar as Anne Shirley, it would be fun to dress up as another fabulous L.M. Montgomery heroine.

#5: Eowyn from Lord of the Rings

“Thus Aragorn for the first time in the full light of day beheld Éowyn, Lady of Rohan, and thought her fair, fair and cold, like a morning of pale spring that is not yet come to womanhood.”

Eowyn from Lord of the Rings
Photo: New Line Productions

I would personally go for the movie’s look since they captured Eowyn perfectly.

#6: Galadriel from Lord of the Rings or another elf like Arwen

Galadriel and Arwen from Lord of the Rings - A Literary Halloween: 20 Female Book Characters to Dress Up As!
Photo: New Line Productions

The elves have such beautiful, elegant looks that this would be an excellent choice for Halloween.

#7: Mulan from Legends

Mulan - Costume Ideas
Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Why not dress up as the legendary Mulan? Of course, you can always use the new movie as inspiration!

#8: Elizabeth or Jessica Wakefield from Sweet Valley High (1980s style, of course)

Sweet Valley High - Double Love Book Cover

My sister and I should have done this when we were teenagers! But, seriously, there should be some identical twins out there who could try this fun literary female character costume idea.

#9: Elizabeth Bennet or any Other Jane Austen Heroine

Jane Austen Female Characters - Costume Ideas
Photo Credits: BBC, ITV/PBS Masterpiece, and Focus Features

Just study Regency clothing or attempt the movie looks. For instance, the new Emma is particularly eye-catching. Then, there are several looks to choose from in PBS Masterpiece’s Sanditon.

#10: Jane Eyre

“I had no article of attire that was not made with extreme simplicity.”

Jane Eyre - Costume Ideas
Photo: Focus Features

Make sure not to dress too extravagantly!

#11: Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter.  

“On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread, appeared the letter A.”

Hester from The Scarlet Letter - Costume Ideas for various female book characters
Photo Credit: Buena Vista Pictures

This 17th-century literary female costume would be a real standout! Plus, the “A” would be a good clue to readers of classic literature.

#12: Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind

Scarlett O'Hara from Gone with the Wind - Costume Ideas
Photo: Warner Bros. & Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

I would love to revisit this as an adult again! Because of her extravagant style, Scarlett O’Hara remains one of the best literary character costume ideas out there.

#13: Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins - Costume Ideas
Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

Make sure not to forget the umbrella!

#14: Effie Trinket from The Hunger Games.

Effie from The Hunger Games - Costume Ideas
Photo: Lionsgate Entertainment

While Katniss is the more popular choice, Effie’s outfits and wigs are so outlandish in the books that you could have a blast coming up with something creative.

#15: Hermione Granger or another female Harry Potter character.

Female Harry Potter Characters - Female Book Characters - Costume Ideas
Photo: Warner Brothers

Choose Hermione from the movies or the play. Or, better yet, dress up as the villainous Bellatrix or the fan-favorite Professor McGonagall. Sure, Harry Potter has been done a lot, but it just never gets old. This female literary character costume idea also works out great because of all the premade clothes you can buy online.

#16: Queen Guinevere from the King Arthur legends

Queen Guinevere from Camelot TV Series
Photo Credit: Camelot (2011): Starz Entertainment

So many adaptations and versions of the story that the ideas for a costume are endless! Not to mention, medieval gowns are stunning.

#17: Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby

Daisy from The Great Gatsby
Photo: Warner Brothers

F. Scott Fitzgerald describes her often as wearing white with a string of pearls.

#18: Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany's
Photo: Paramount Pictures

I think the cat is an accessory necessity! I would also definitely go with the classic Audrey Hepburn look.

#19: Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations

“I saw that everything within my view which ought to be white, had been white long ago, and had lost its luster, and was faded and yellow. I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress, and like the flowers, and had no brightness left but the brightness of her sunken eyes.”

Miss Havisham from Great Expectations - Female Book Characters Costume Ideas
Photo: BBC Films

You can buy an old white dress at a vintage shop and have fun damaging it!

#20: Lady Phryne Fisher From the Miss Fisher Detective Novels

Miss Fisher from Miss Fisher's Murder Mystery - Halloween Costume Ideas
Photo Credit: Acorn TV

If you’re looking for a stylish 1920s character, look no further than the fabulous and gorgeous Miss Fisher. Of course, the costumes from the TV Series are exceptional! Overall, there are so many inspirational looks to choose from!

What female book characters do you wish you could dress up as for Halloween? Sound off below…

Photo: Pride and Prejudice. Credit: BBC

A Literary Halloween: 20 Female Book Characters to Dress Up As! Pinterest Image


By on October 12th, 2020

About Autumn Topping

In second grade, Autumn wrote her first story, “The Spinach Monster,” and hasn't stopped writing since. Intrigued by the tales her grandmother told of vampires, witches, and ghosts as a girl, she's always been drawn to the fantastic. Later, Autumn studied English and Creative Writing (continuing her love for classic literature and everything old-fashioned) and graduated with an MA in Children’s Literature and an MS in Library & Information Science from Simmons College. Currently, she co-runs this lovely blog and works as a YA Librarian.

More posts by this author.

4 thoughts on “A Literary Halloween: 20 Female Book Characters to Dress Up As!”

  1. This Halloween I saw a young girl dressed as the Eye of Sauron on the tower. It was awesome, not only for the nod to classic literature but it was also incredibly well done.

  2. Not exactly classic- but I’ve done Jane Austen characters for Halloween so many times that it’s time to rewear my Regency ball gown for Pride and Prejudice… and Zombies!


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