1. Handmaids from The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Forced to live as obedient servants in a dystopian world of totalitarian theocratic rule, the handmaids fight back to regain female agency. The government mandates that each handmaid wear a long red dress, hooded cape, and a white bonnet. This uniform becomes a symbol for the resistance in the novel–and in present society as well–and would make a simple, fun Halloween costume! Dust off your favorite old white bonnet and red cape (or just red winter coat if you’re short on time) and you’re officially a handmaid. – Mary Berset, Literary Events Intern


2. Bertha Mason from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Known for her daunting presence and wild demeanor, Bertha Mason acts as the “ghost” who haunts the titular character of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel. She’s the forgotten wife of Mr. Rochester who, in attempts to conceal her madness, locks her away in the attic of his estate – thus creating her nickname “The Madwoman in the Attic.” This costume won’t require much, just a couple of items and willingness to DIY. Throw on an old, raggedy white nightgown, dark makeup, and tease your hair into a rat’s nest and you’re all set. -Elizabeth Phan, Literary Events Intern

3. Effie Trinket from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

For the most over-the-top Halloween costume enthusiasts, the full Effie Trinket look is perfect. The posh escort of District 12, Effie over-enthusiastically leads Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark to the capital for the 74th Annual Hunger Games. Effie’s grandiose personality is mirrored by her appearance as she flaunts towering wigs and cartoonish makeup. To get her look, pile on the costume jewelry, powdery makeup, a huge hairpiece, and the most comically extravagant dress you can find. May the odds be ever in your favor! -Emily Herman, Literary Events Intern

4. Anne Boleyn from Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Accused of witchcraft and high treason and the most infamous of Henry VIII’s six wives, Anne Boleyn lost her head in 1536, but her aura and mystique lives on in Mantel’s first book of a trilogy narrated by Thomas Cromwell, who plays a prominent role in her downfall. This costume is all in the accessories: part your hair down the middle, glue gold studs onto a black headband, wrap strings of pearls around your neck, and add a gold-plated letter “B” for that authentic Boleyn touch. With a long black gown and a dusting of white powder (baby powder works well), you’ve transformed into the mother of the future Queen Elizabeth I. – Lacey N. Dunham, Writers in Schools Director

5. Nancy Drew from the Nancy Drew Series by Carolyn Keene

Teenage sleuth Nancy Drew stars in a series of novels created by publisher Edward Stretemeyer and ghost-written by numerous authors. Often described as “Supergirl,” Nancy Drew has become a cultural icon through her work as a detective. Always impeccably dressed, a Nancy Drew halloween costume should entail a collared blouse, sweater, pencil skirt, tights, and flats. Add a headband and carry a flashlight or magnifying glass, and you’re ready to solve any mystery that may come your way this Halloween. – Mary Berset, Literary Events Intern

6. Joe Hardy from the Hardy Boys Series by Franklin W. Dixon

As a precursor and partner to Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys Series was created by publisher Edward Stretemeyer and written by ghostwriters under the pseudonym Franklin W. Dixon. Joe Hardy, alongside his brother Frank, solve mysteries together, and put a stop to crimes such as murder, drug peddling, race horse kidnapping, diamond smuggling, and much more. Dress up as Joe Hardy with a collared button-down, red sweater, khaki pants, and a magnifying glass or flashlight! This costume also works for couples, as the iconic Joe Hardy and Nancy Drew team. – Mary Berset, Literary Events Intern

7. Madeline from Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

A series of stories surrounding the exciting adventures of a seven-year-old girl in a Parisian boarding school, Madeline’s sweet yet sneaky attitude has charmed readers since it was published in 1956. From scheming ways save her school from closing to finding her way around Miss Clavel’s strict rules, Madeline is a a simple yet recognizable literary costume. All you need is a camel colored straw hat with a black bow around the brim, a blue dress with a long red neck tie, white stockings, and black ballet flats. – Caroline Evashavik, Writers in Schools Intern

8. Klaus Baudelaire from A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

As the middle child and only boy, Klaus is described as the intelligent sibling. He’s an avid reader and loves to research everything and anything during his free time. He is known for standing by his older sister’s side and using big words and phrases that no one but him understands. Just one of the three beloved characters in Lemony Snicket’s, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Klaus’s school uniform is easy to replicate. All you need is grey slacks, a black vest and dress shoes, white button up, red tie with white stripes, and a maroon dress jacket. To make the costume more authentic, you can print out his schools emblem and pin it on the left side of the dress jacket. –Laura Sincage, Writers in Schools Intern. 

9. Violet Baudelaire from A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

As the eldest in the family, Violet is an intelligent and charming character with an endless streak of bad luck. She is the inventor in the family, and throughout the series her inventions have helped save her and her siblings. As the leader of the Baudelaire clan, her school uniform is perfect for a last minute costume. You’ll need a mid-length grey skirt, grey V-neck sweater, black tights and flats, white button up, maroon dress jacket, and a red tie with white stripes. To complete the full look, add the school emblem to the maroon dress jacket and tie your hair back with a bow. -Laura Sincage, Writers in Schools Intern.

10. Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

After a mysterious fire kills Mr. and Mrs. Baudelaire, Count Olaf becomes the cunning adoptive father of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire in order to obtain their fortune. Although Count Olaf has plenty of aliases, his most identifiable look consists of black pinstriped pants, a matching blazer with long tails, and a silver necktie. Wear a wig or tease your own hair to match his frizzy, nearly vertical hairstyle. Bonus points for a fuzzy gray unibrow. -Emily Herman, Literary Events Intern

11. Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Being accused of adultery back in the 1800s was no laughing matter; Hester Prynne was forced to sew a giant scarlet “A” onto all of her clothes as punishment for having a child out of wedlock. Even after enduring endless harassment and humiliation, she was never permitted to remove the “A.” and when she died even her grave bore this marking. As if it isn’t obvious, this costume is all about the “A.” All you need is a long black dress, a white apron on top, and a blood-red “A” sewn right down the middle. –Caroline Evashavik, Writers in Schools Intern

12. Amelia Bedelia from Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish

Amelia is a housekeeper who takes directions from her employers too literally in this silly series. She means well but somehow she can never seem to get anything right. Peggy Parish’s Amelia Bedelia has been a favorite for young children since 1963. Bring her to life by creating your own Amelia Bedelia with the use of a black dress, white apron, black hat with flowers on it, black stockings, and black shoes. – Yevette Smith, Writers in Schools Intern

13. Characters from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

For those looking for a group costume, look no further than Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel. Alice finds herself encountering characters of the unique variety. There’s the Queen of Hearts, whose costume requires a red and black dress, a crown, and a heart emblem. She also meets the Mad Hatter, who wears purple pants, a colorful blazer, a big bow tie, and a giant hat. And who could forget the Cheshire Cat, with his big, toothy grin. He’s shown in the 1951 Disney adaptation as pink and purple, and all you’d need to add is a pair of cat ears. -Elizabeth Phan, Literary Events Intern

14. Amma Crellin from Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (SPOILER ALERT)

Filled with dysfunctional families, secrets from the past, repressed memories, and a rising death toll of little girls, the HBO adaptation of this novel inspires eerie, yet subtle Halloween costumes. Amma Crellin is the ringleader of the “cool girls” (who are unphased by their classmates’ killings). A “good girl” in the daytime, Amma changes into someone else as night falls. Become daytime Amma by adorning your perfectly brushed hair with ribbons and slip into a floral-print knee-length dress with lace-lined socks and flats. Put on a devilish grin and carry a doll. For nighttime Amma, switch into a pair of roller skates, pink crop top, jean shorts, and be sure to carry pliers and a reckless attitude. Can’t decide? Be two-faced Amma: Roller skate on one foot, ballet flat on the other. Ribbons on one side, none on the other. Brush up on your sewing skills and sew up half of a dress atop a shirt and jean shorts. – Tessa Houstoun, Writers in Schools Senior Associate


15. Pippi Longstocking from Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Pippi is more than the strongest girl in the world: she is adventurous, fun, and extremely caring. With no parents to tell her what to do, this red haired, freckled face, nine-year-old girl with upside down braids goes on many adventures. This costume is all about having fun with the clothing: a denim jumper, knee high socks, and either a turtleneck or a red-and-white striped top. Finish it off with side braids. Add in an adventurous spirit, and you’ve transformed into Pippi Longstocking. – Yevette Smith, Writers in Schools intern

16. Eloise from Eloise by Kay Thompson, Illustrated by Hilary Knight

Living on the “tippy-top floor” of the Plaza Hotel in New York City, Eloise is a force to be reckoned with for everyone she meets. An energetic character with crazy antics, you can’t help but fall in love with her. This costume is an easy ensemble with a simple short black flowy skirt, black flats, suspenders, a short sleeve white button up, and high socks, with a pink bow tied in unruly hair. –Laura Sincage, Writer in Schools Intern

17. Coraline from Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman’s young protagonist Coraline works relentlessly to rid herself of boredom and the mundaneness of her daily life. In doing so, she encounters strange characters far beyond her imagination which lead her into some tricky situations. In 2009, the book was adapted into a widely beloved animated movie that shows Coraline in all her colorful glory. For this costume, you’ll need a yellow rain jacket, yellow rain boots, blue jeans, and a blue wig. You’ll be easily recognizable and ready for adventure on Halloween night! -Elizabeth Phan, Literary Events Intern

18. Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

As the brattiest winner of the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, Veruca Salt demanda her father give her anything she wants inside the secret candy fantasy world. Veruca’s entitlement gets her deep into trouble when she tries to steal a squirrel from the nut room and ends up being ambushed by all hundred squirrels. This Halloween, borrow Veruca’s sassy attitude and throw a red dress over a white collared shirt to get her iconic look. To accessorize, add on white stockings, a black belt, and shiny black flats. -Emily Herman, Literary Events Intern

19. Matilda Wormwood from Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda, a five-year-old girl and avid reader who enjoys playing pranks on family and friends, is often mistreated by her parents, older brother, and the evil Miss Trunchbull, but she finds a friend in her teacher Ms. Honey. In an attempt to get revenge, Matilda uses her powers of telekinesis to drive Miss Trunchbull away and give Ms. Honey what she deserves. Matilda’s parents decide to pack up and leave and Matilda ends up living with Ms. Honey. Wear a white t-shirt with a blue dress (bonus if the dress has flowers!), tall socks, red shoes, and a blue headband.  – Nina Arroyo Santiago, Nuestra Voz Program Associate


20. Count Dracula from Dracula by Bram Stoker

Thanks to Irishman Bram Stoker, the lasting stereotype of the vampire was born: pale with pointy ears and canine teeth, blood-red lips, bushy eyebrows, and the classic widow’s peaks on a head of black hair. For this costume all you need is white face paint, red lipstick, and a black eyebrow pencil. Stoker’s undead character wore all black, so find your inner-goth for a perfect and easy costume. But why wear it just once? Head to Dublin for the annual Bram Stoker festival. – Lacey N. Dunham, Writers in Schools Director

Happy Halloween from the PEN/Faulkner Staff!