15 Fragrances Inspired by Literature
Few things elicit more powerful nostalgia than a scent or the pages of a beloved book—so it only makes sense then that literature and fragrance are frequent collaborators. Here are 15 such pairings, which might lead you to weave a fantastical tale of a romantic prospect who smells of library. Sometimes reality is better than fiction.
1. Paperback by Demeter Fragrance Library
A surprising number of fragrances promise to leave you smelling like a book itself. This one has “just a touch of that musty smell of aged paper” along with notes of violets and potpourri.
2. Dead Writers Perfume by Sweet Tea Apothecary
Don’t be put off by the name of this scent, which aims to evoke “the feeling of sitting in the old library chair paging through yellowed copies” of beloved texts—not the aroma of long-dead wordsmiths. With black tea, vetiver, clove, musk, vanilla, heliotrope, and tobacco, it definitely contains some of the substances that fuel great writing. And if you’re interested in channeling someone in particular, they also have scents that pay homage to Jane Austen, Beatrix Potter, Jack Kerouac, and Edgar Allan Poe.
3. Game of Thrones Fire and Blood Perfume from ThinkGeek
This Khaleesi-inspired fragrance is currently out of stock, but for what it’s worth, the mother of dragons apparently smells like Dothraki Sea grass, smoke, and violets, with notes of leather and dragon’s blood.
4. Baudelaire by Byredo
French poet Charles Baudelaire’s Parfum exotique engendered this scent, which appropriately includes many complex layers of juniper berry, black pepper, caraway, incense, hyacinth, leather, papyrus, patchouli, and black amber.
5. Wilde Eau de parfum for men by Jardins d’Ecrivains
A fragrance for “aesthetes who are striving to become what they are” and inspired by Wilde’s words, its top notes are bergamot and grape, and the middle are fig, carnation, and tea, with a base of oakmoss and vetiver. The company also pays homage to Christopher Marlowe, William Burroughs, Virginia Woolf, Colette, and George Sand via scent.
6. She Came to Stay by Edition Perfumes
Inspired by a Simone de Beauvoir novel of the same name, this perfume has warm, woody notes that echo “the passion and creative energy that lifts itself above the austerity and oppression of a Paris on the verge of cataclysmic change”—with notes of basil and lemon. The promises don’t end there: “Give it time to settle on your skin and allow it to tell your personal story.”
7. Paper Passion by Gerhard Steidl and Geza Schoen
Karl Lagerfeld helped to create the packaging for this luxe fragrance that “tells the story of a passion and a twisting plot to put the particular bouquet of freshly printed books in a bottle.” The designer bottle is accompanied by texts from Lagerfeld as well as Gunter Grass, Schoen, and Tony Chambers, and is designed to relax you the way a good book does. It was created in collaboration with Wallpaper Magazine.
8. Poe’s Tobacco No.1 by TokyoMilk
Edgar Allan Poe’s raven is featured on the packaging for this scent that includes “nostalgic” notes of tobac, tea leaves, amberwood, and autumn apple.
9. A Room with a View by CB I Hate Perfume
Inspired by the E.M. Forster novel (the end of chapter six, to be precise), the scent captures “the hills above Florence—the vineyards, the wild grass, the finocchio, the hot dusty Florentine earth. And of course a torrent of Violets.”
10. Bitter Rose, Broken Spear by D.S. & Durga
A medieval Welsh poem called Y Gododdin inspired this perfume with “aromatic materials from the lands of the Red Branch knights and their travels to prehistoric Scotland—smelted iron, larchwood, thistle—emboldened with bitter rose and amber.” It’s part of a line exploring the “pseudohistorical,” possibly supernatural land of Iron Age Europe.
11. Dorian Gray by Ravenscourt Apothecary
If you aspire to adopting Dorian Gray's olfactory identity (maybe his scent fared better than his face?), there’s this cologne with coconut oil, vetiver , juniper, bergamot, and lemon. The line also offers fragrant odes to Elizabeth Bennet, Alice (of Wonderland), Jane Eyre, Heathcliff, Anne of Avonlea, Mr. Rochester, The Secret Garden,, and Mr. Darcy. Personally, I wouldn’t mind breathing in a little of that haughty gent with a heart of gold.
12. Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s many many fragrances
Everything from H.P Lovecraft to Fraggle Rock gets the aromatic treatment at this shop where every fragrance is hand-blended. If you’re wondering, Boober apparently smells like “freshly-washed laundry, linden blossom, soap suds, and a sprinkle of vanilla.”
13. Scent Stories by Ah&Oh
This is simply a design project, but sometimes perfume is all about the packaging anyway. The heads of characters from works by George Orwell, Edgar Allan Poe, Marquis de Sade, and Pierre Choderlos de Laclos top these stark black and white containers and contain quotes like de Sade’s “...ambition, cruelty, avarice, revenge, are all founded on lust.”
14. Panache by Parfums DelRae
You might recall that the title character in Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand is famed for his panache, so much so that his dying words are actually “My panache.” That quality is now a scent inspired by the heroic comedy character and boasting a number of ingredients, including ambrette seed, magnolia flower, ylang ylang orpur, cardamom, and oakwood extract.
15. Breath of Hope by Angela Flanders
For a totally contemporary take on lit-inspired fragrances, Flanders recently introduced a limited-edition floral scent inspired by a poem that Vicci Bentley—a writer and perfume critic—had dedicated to her. It contains lily of the valley, galbanum, frankincense, myrrh, oakmoss and guaiac, which sounds exactly like the scent of mutual admiration and shared creativity.