Many popular Halloween costumes are based on movie or cartoon characters. Literary character Halloween costumes aren't as common, but they are great if you are looking for something familiar yet not overdone. These characters might be immediately recognizable, or you may need to tell people who you are. Some of these literary character costumes for Halloween are also known for movies. They may be better known for the movies, but as long as they were in books first they can be listed here. I've included classic literature, children's literature, and current popular literature in this list. There are ten different books listed, and some have multiple characters from them.
Harry Potter and Hogwarts
A whole generation of children grew up reading the Harry Potter books. While there might be some weaknesses to the stories, the distinct characters and the rich atmosphere make it perfect for Halloween time. Since the stories have been made into movies, it is easy to find premade costumes. You can choose to go as the boy who lived, with a Gryffindor outfit, a pair of glasses, and a lightning bolt scar on your forehead.
The cool thing about this is that you aren't limited to existing characters. You can get an outfit for any of the Hogwarts houses. Create your own character from Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, or Slytherin.
Little Bo Peep
Little Bo Peep has been found in manuscripts dating back to 1805, but the nursery rhyme has an even older oral tradition. This is a fairly easy costume to make if you have sewing skills, and there are a lot of options available if you are looking to buy something premade.
While you will see some Little Bo Peep costumes for adults, they are more popular for young girls and toddlers. Younger brothers or sisters may dress up as a lamb for Halloween to match their sibling's costume.
While Gone With the Wind might be best known as the 1939 movie, it was first a Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Margaret Mitchell. It features the southern belle Scarlett O'Hara, along with her star-crossed lover Rhett Butler. If you go with this costume, you may want to find an outfit that replicate's one of Scarlett's dresses in the movies. But since she is a literary character as well as a movie character, you are free to make your own.
Any southern belle dress will do if you want to go as Scarlett. If you are looking for a couples costume this can also work with the man dressing up as Rhett. Add a hat, a fan, or a pair of gloves to your dress to complete the look. If you get a nice outfit it will cost more than a typical Halloween costume but you should be able to wear it more than one night.
Peter Pan and Tinker Bell
The iconic characters of Peter Pan and Tinker Bell first appear in a play called Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up in 1904. Author J.M. Barrie turned it into a novel in 1911 which he called simply Peter and Wendy.
Peter Pan is the boy who chooses to never grow up and instead lives a life of adventure. Tinker Bell is his spunky and jealous fairy friend. The appearance of these characters is usually based on how they appeared in Disney's animated versions. A typical Peter Pan costume will be all green and include a pointed hat with a feather in it. Tinkerbell wears a lighter green dress and has wings.
Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet are the most famous star-crossed lovers in literature. William Shakespeare's tragic play was set in the late 16th century Verona, so your costumes should reflect that time and place. If you are looking for a visual to base it on, there are many performances and while some of them have updated costumes and settings, many stay true to the original feel.
The easiest way to dress up as Romeo or Juliet are to look for premade costumes, but talented seamstresses will have fun making their own. Juliet's dress style is well-known. The skirt is long and straight, with a simple top and long sleeves.
I know that Julius Caesar was a real person. But many people think of the depiction of him in Shakespeare's play. He actually doesn't appear in that many scenes of the play, but it is still memorable. It is also an easy costume to make and there are many different versions to buy.
If you want to make this outfit more Halloweeny, consider going as ghost or zombie Julius Caesar, after he has been assassinated by Brutus and the other conspirators. Just add stab wounds.
Sherlock Holmes is an instantly recognized character who doesn't need a complicated costume. He's a good pick for anyone who is a fan of mysteries. While the character is a male, you can also find women versions of Sherlock Holmes costumes. All that you need is a long overcoat, which is perfect for the weather in late October. Underneath you can wear slacks and a long sleeve shirt. You may want to also wear a vest with a tie or an ascot.
Your detective kit is a vital part of the outfit. Fortunately, these props are affordable. You'll want the detective hat. You'll also want a magnifying glass, a pipe, or both.
Wizard of Oz
You have several characters to choose from in Wizard of Oz. While we always think about the movie versions of these characters, they first appeared in literature. L. Frank Baum published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900. You can choose from Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, Glinda, or the Wicked Witch.
If you do dress up as a character from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, you will probably be drawing more from the movie than the children's novel. For example, in the book Dorothy's slippers are silver instead of ruby red. But everyone now associates ruby slippers with Oz.
Jane Austen Characters
Jane Austen is one of my favorite writers with her witty characters and sharp social satire. Her novels focus on the upper class of England in the early nineteenth century. This means that you get to dress up really nicely for Halloween.
The most popular male character is, of course, Mr Darcy. Elizabeth Bennet is the main female character of Pride and Prejudice and the eventual romantic interest of Mr. Darcy. There is also Emma from the novel with the same name. From Sense and Sensibility, there are the sisters Elinor and Marianne Dashwood.
The Greek Pantheon
I became obsessed with Greek gods when I was in elementary school. When I was older, I read their appearances in the Iliad, the Odyssey, and many other ancient Greek dramas and comedies. While the Greek gods aren't often the main characters of the stories, they often appear.
A member of the Greek Pantheon is a good costume for any classical literature lovers. Have fun being creative with this costume and choose your favorite god or goddess to appear as. If you dress up as Zeus, make a lightning bolt prop to carry around on Halloween. The hunter Artemis is often depicted with a bow. Athena is the goddess of wisdom, but she is also a warrior so a costume should reflect that.