Whether you're heading to a party with a literary theme or simply trying to impress an English teacher this Halloween, here are a few inexpensive costume ideas worth trying on.

Emily Dickinson

Though Emily Dickinson published fewer than a dozen poems over the course of her reclusive lifetime, she was an avid reader and writer, penning nearly 1,800 poems in her uniquely American style.

You Will Need
An old-school nightgown or simple white cotton dress
A ribbon
Hair pulled back in a modest bun
A fascicle (a small bundle of folded poems)

Extra Credit

Hand out plastic flies while reciting the immortal line: "I heard a Fly buzz—when I died..."

Edgar Allan Poe

One of the originators of both horror and detective fiction, Edgar Allan Poe gave the American Romantic movement a morbid twist.

You Will Need
A moustache
A bowtie
A velvet blazer
A touch of eyeshadow
Dishevelled hair

Extra Credit

The raven
which quoth "Nevermore!"

William Carlos Williams

Also a practicing physician, William Carlos Williams sought to invent an entirely fresh—and singularly American—poetics, whose subject matter was centered on the everyday circumstances of life and the lives of common people.

You Will Need
A stethoscope
Medical gloves
Brushed-back hair

Extra Credit

A bowl of plums

Walt Whitman

Among the most influential poets in the American canon, Walt Whitman is often called the father of free verse. His major work, Leaves of Grass, aimed to reflect the experiences of everyday Americans.

You Will Need
A beard
A simple collared shirt
Rustic pants
A floppy brown hat

Extra Credit

Roll in the grass to complete the look: when someone asks what that is stuck to your shirt, you can reply as Whitman does in "A child said, What is the grass?"


Called "the tenth Muse" by Plato, Sappho either invented or refined the meter of her day, now known as "Sapphic" meter.

You Will Need
A toga
A lyre

Extra Credit
Recite fragments of poems from memory, as in ancient times: "I feel that / death has come near me."

Hand out chocolate Sapphic coins.

Happy Halloween!