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17 Halloween Costumes For Bookworms

Tap into frightful creativity inspired by your favorite works of literature this Halloween!

List by Mary Ann O’Farrell
Intro and photos by Rachel Knight ’18

Halloween is for the worms, the bookworms that is. 

Imagine a party where everyone comes dressed as striking characters from literary works! We asked associate English professor Mary Ann O’Farrell to imagine such a party. What resulted was a list of 17 literary characters you and your friends might dare to dress as this Halloween. 

We invite you to join us at this fantastical party full of familiar faces dressed like Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, Lady Macbeth, and Snape by using some of O’Farrell’s costume ideas. Happy Halloween!

  1. Hamlet:  try to look poetic and melancholy while holding a skull.
  2. Dracula:  swirl your cape, but don’t forget your checkbook (the surprise of Bram Stoker’s vampire is how nearly-modern he seems).
  3. Hester Prynne:  scandalize your friends by wearing a scarlet letter.
  4. The Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland:  blue eye shadow and a red wig, if you’re going for the Helena Bonham Carter manifestation of the queen.
  5. Sherlock Holmes:  a Meerschaum pipe and a deerstalker hat are required.  A modern Holmes will spend the night disavowing the hat. 
  6. A triffid:  one of the aggressive plants on the move in John Wyndham’s science fiction novel, The Day of the Triffids.  Don’t forget that you’re carnivorous.
  7. Mrs. Jennings or Sir John Middleton from Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility:  why be Elizabeth or Darcy when you can be chatty and embarrassing?
  8. Stevens the butler in Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day:  if you’re sad that day but don’t quite know it.
  9. Lila Mae Watson:  Colson Whitehead’s The Intuitionist elevator inspector; tie, workshoes, uniform, rethinking verticality.
  10. Lady Macbeth:  lipstick bloodstains on your hands; try washing them off.
  11. Dorian Gray’s picture from Oscar Wilde’s novel:  showing his age (frame required).
  12. Your favorite Game of Thrones character:  that would be Arya, right?
  13. Not-Frankenstein:  if you go for Elphaba-green make-up and rubber neck bolts, you’re the culture’s fantasy of Mary Shelley’s creature, not the scientist who stitches him together in a “workshop of filthy creation.”
  14. (Come to think of it) Wicked’s Elphaba or her literary ancestor, L. Frank Baum’s Wicked Witch of the West:  any excuse to make red shoes into Oz’s ruby slippers.
  15. The Ghost of Christmas Past:  the first of Charles Dickens’s Christmas Carol ghost shines a light from his head, a walking movie.
  16. The Phantom of the Opera:  Gaston Leroux’s character, offering an alternative motivation for a mask.
  17. Snape:  now and forever.

Carving Classic Literary Characters

Take your frightful fun a little further with pumpkin carving stencils inspired by classic literary characters! Download pumpkin stencils of Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, and Hamlet.