Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Wizard of Oz
by L. Frank Baum

Halloween, for me, comes with a small amount of trepidation.  I love the sweets, the festive atmosphere, and the parties, but the costumes are always a problem.  I struggle for inspiration. A good Halloween costume should be instantly recognisable, yet relatively easy to make.

And this is where books can help. Literature contains hundreds of famous characters that are ideal for Halloween from horror and non-horror genres. Distinct characters, period costumes and props are your best bet. Take Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum for example. We’re spoiled for choice – Dorothy (with a small yappy dog) and the Tinman are particularly recognizable, and the Cowardly Lion would also work if you have acting skills.

The only downside to being Dorothy (apart from the fact I’m male) is that you could see other Dorothies while trick or treating. There’s nothing worse than costume clash. Characters from Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and the Harry Potter books are also commonplace these days and best avoided.

It's always good to be topical but Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele from Fifty Shades of Grey might be tough to pull off and difficult to explain to children.  It would also be interesting to see a Halloween reveller explaining that they were dressed as the ‘monstrous vermin’ from The Metamorphosis by Kafka.

To help with your Halloween planning, we have some suggestions for literary characters ideal for Halloween costumes.

Literary Characters for Halloween Costumes

The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Arthur Dent from The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy
by Douglas Adams

Dressing gowne, towel and a look of utter confusion. Ask for a cup of tea on a regular basis.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Patrick Bateman from American Psycho
by Bret Easton Ellis

A slick suit, yellow tie, white shirt – all with a smatter of blood, Hand out business cards.
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Pippi herself from Pippi Longstocking
by Astrid Lindgren

Bright red wig with long pigtails that stick out sideways (use wire).

Gulliverís Travels by Jonathan Swift
Gulliver himself from Gulliverís Travels
by Jonathan Swift

Period costume from the 18th century, including stockings. Tie toy soldiers to pieces of string and attach to your tunic.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Sew a bright red ‘A’ to the bodice of your dress. Wear a white bonnet and apron. Look wronged.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Tom Sawyer fromThe Adventures of Tom Sawyer
by Mark Twain

A straw hat, well beaten leather shoes and overalls.  Carry a paint brush and a bucket of white paint.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee

Scout attended the pageant dressed as a cured ham made from chicken wire and cloth. So can you.

The Tintin stories by Herge
Thomson and Thompson from The Tintin stories
by Herge

Ideal for twins. Wear dark suits, bowler hats and carry crooked canes.  Good moustaches are important.

Thing 1 from The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
Thing 1 and Thing 2 from The Cat in the Hat
by Dr. Seuss

Another one for twins. Find matching red jumpsuits, blue wigs, and white face paint. 
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
Elizabeth from The Paper Bag Princess
by Robert Munsch

A very affordable costume. A large stuffed dragon is a useful accessory.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
Hercule Poirot from The Mysterious Affair at Styles (and others)
by Agatha Christie

Be a stout Belgian with a stiff curled moustache. Carry a cane, and a pocket watch. Be observant.

The Lion The Witch and the Wardobe by C.S. Lewis
The White Witch from The Lion The Witch and the Wardobe
by C.S. Lewis

Pale skin, a haughty attitude, a fancy white dress and a box of Turkish delight.

Animal Farm by George Orwell
Napoleon from Animal Farm
by George Orwell

A bit tricky – a pig that looks like Joseph Stalin. Carry a hammer and sickle to avoid be confused with Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web.

The Call of Cthulhu by HP Lovecraft
Cthulhu from The Call of Cthulhu
by HP Lovecraft

It’s not easy to say, let alone make. Attach stuffed green/brown socks to a monster mask and wear an oversized hooded robe. 
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
by Stieg Larsson

Leather jacket, combat boots, tattoos and piercings (like most teenagers really). A laptop is a good accessory.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Milo (and Tock) from The Phantom Tollbooth
by Norton Juster

If you have a large dog, strap a wall clock to its side to make Tock, the watchdog.
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
Captain Ahab from Moby-Dick
by Herman Melville

A harpoon is the important accessory and probably easier to find in coastal towns and cities.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins

Straight black hair in one long braid; you’ll need a big bow, a lot of arrows and a stubborn expression.

Captain Corelliís Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres
Antonio Corelli from Captain Corelliís Mandolin
by Louis de Bernieres

A military uniform, a love of life and that all important mandolin.
Tarzan and the Lost Empire by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Tarzan from The Tarzan novels
by Edgar Rice Burroughs

No-one seems to dress up as Tarzan any more – a good physique helps, as does a wild animal to wrestle.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Guy Montag from Fahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury

A futuristic fireman’s costume with a bundle of books under your arm.

Biggles from the novels of Captain WE Johns
Biggles from the Biggles novels
by Captain W.E. Johns

Leather flying jacket, goggles and a revolver. “Chocs away!”

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
by Victor Hugo

Easy costume with a bag of clothes shoved up the back of your tunic. Acting skills necessary.

It by Stephen King
Pennywise the clown from It
by Stephen King

Takes a lot of make-up but is genuinely scary. Not be confused with Ronald McDonald (also genuinely scary).

Misery by Stephen King
Annie Wilkes from Misery
by Stephen King

A frumpy nurse's costume with a few food stains will do the trick. Add a cardigan and a glassy expression. Carry an axe, a blowtorch or both.

Have you dressed up as a literary character? Tell us about it:


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