Literary Halloween Costumesby Scott Laming
Halloween, for me, comes with a small amount of trepidation. I love the candy, the festive atmosphere, and the parties, but the costumes are always a problem. I struggle for inspiration. A good Halloween costume should be instantly recognizable, 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 reveler 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
Arthur Dent from The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy
by Douglas Adams
Bathrobe, towel and a look of utter confusion. Ask for a cup of tea on a regular basis.
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 herself from Pippi Longstocking
by Astrid Lindgren
Bright red wig with long pigtails that stick out sideways (use wire).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thomson and Thompson from The Tintin stories
Ideal for twins. Wear dark suits, bowler hats and carry crooked canes. Good moustaches are important.
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.
Elizabeth from The Paper Bag Princess
by Robert Munsch
A very affordable costume. A large stuffed dragon is a useful accessory.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Captain Ahab from Moby-Dick
by Herman Melville
A harpoon is the important accessory and probably easier to find in coastal towns and cities.
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.
Antonio Corelli from Captain Corelliís Mandolin
by Louis de Bernieres
A military uniform, a love of life and that all important mandolin.
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.
Guy Montag from Fahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury
A futuristic fireman’s costume with a bundle of books under your arm.
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
Easy costume with a bag of clothes shoved up the back of your tunic. Acting skills necessary.
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).
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.