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.
Dressing gowne, towel and a look of utter confusion. Ask for a cup of tea on a regular basis.
Bright red wig with long pigtails that stick out sideways (use wire).
Period costume from the 18th century, including stockings. Tie toy soldiers to pieces of string and attach to your tunic.
Scout attended the pageant dressed as a cured ham made from chicken wire and cloth. So can you.
Ideal for twins. Wear dark suits, bowler hats and carry crooked canes. Good moustaches are important.
A very affordable costume. A large stuffed dragon is a useful accessory.
Be a stout Belgian with a stiff curled moustache. Carry a cane, and a pocket watch. Be observant.
Pale skin, a haughty attitude, a fancy white dress and a box of Turkish delight.
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.
Leather jacket, combat boots, tattoos and piercings (like most teenagers really). A laptop is a good accessory.
Straight black hair in one long braid; you’ll need a big bow, a lot of arrows and a stubborn expression.
A futuristic fireman’s costume with a bundle of books under your arm.
Leather flying jacket, goggles and a revolver. “Chocs away!”
Easy costume with a bag of clothes shoved up the back of your tunic. Acting skills necessary.
Takes a lot of make-up but is genuinely scary. Not be confused with Ronald McDonald (also genuinely scary).