Vivian Darkbloom is a walking literary reference.

This page is dedicated to books referenced or shown on the show. It was continuously updated with each episode.

Season 1

  • "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee (1960) - required reading in Mr. Fitz's English class. The episode titled "To Kill a Mocking Girl" is a play on this book's title. There is much in-class discussion about this book in "Can You Hear Me Now?" The conversation gets quite awkward between Aria, Ezra, and Sperling, but before that, Spencer vindicates Boo Radley's character, which is quite similar to Toby's character. Also, it seems that the class was already assigned to read at least parts of the book as early as "The Jenna Thing," as we see in that episode Mr. Fitz giving his class a writing assignment to explore which characters are innocent in Harper Lee's novel. In "The Goodbye Look," Aria and her classmates give Mr. Fitz what appears to be a first edition of the novel as a parting gift.
  • "A Portrait of Harper Lee" by Charles J Shields (2006) - In "To Kill a Mocking Girl," after Aria expresses how much she is enjoying reading "To Kill a Mockingbird," her parents suggest Aria read "the" author's biography. "A Portrait of Harper Lee" is arguably the most authoritative biography written about the author.
  • "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" by L. Frank Baum (1900) - This children's novel gets many nods throughout Pretty Little Liars, though the references are identical to the adapted film references. "There's No Place Like Homecoming," is "A 's" fortune-cookie message to the Liars, as well as the name of the episode; it is an obvious reference to Dorothy's line at the end of the book: "There is no place like home." Additionally, Mona and Hanna's banter in "The Perfect Storm" involves two references, namely Mona's mocking Lucas telling him to ask the wizard to make him a man and Hanna's rebuttal telling Mona to take a trip to Oz for a heart.
  • "Madame Bovary" by Gustave Flaubert (1856) - Title is written on the board when Ms. Shepard subs for Mr. Fitz in the "The Homecoming Hangover."
  • "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain (1876) - "A" makes the allusion to this book in "Please, Do Talk About Me When I'm Gone," when she (Alison's poser) lets the girls know that she creepily plans to attend the memorial service for Alison DiLaurentis, where she will be watching like Tom Sawyer did at his own funeral service, without the eulogizers knowing that he was really still alive.
  • "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens (1860-1861) - "A" sends a message to Emily in "The Perfect Storm" to see what's hidden in the school library's copy of the book. The big has special significance for Emily, because she once stumbled across Alison reading this book alone in the library. They had briefly discussed the book before Emily kissed Alison. Alison had read Emily the passage about how Pip loved Estella, and the parallel to how Emily loves Alison is obvious: it is against reason, and Pip worshiped Estella, who ignored him half the time and cruelly and teasingly led him on the other half.
  • "The Perfect Storm" by Wolfgang Peterson (1997) - The same episode that showcased "Great Expectations" had the same title as the non-fiction book, The Perfect Storm. (Later, it was adapted into a film.) The book revolves around a dramatic disaster ensuing after a thunderstorm. The episode was similarly themed, though it is debatable whether the events were truly disastrous; on the one hand, Emily had a bad brush with "A" and was accused by Darren Wilden of murdering Alison; on the other hand, the girls' SATs were postponed.
  • "Catcher in the Rye" by J. D. Salinger (1951) - Toby is reading it at the Grille in "Reality Bites Me." Later, in "Je Suis une Amie," Spencer gives Toby a copy of the book's French translation, "L'Attrape-Coeurs."
  • "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925) - Book notes are on the board in "Know Your Frenemies" when Noel comes to blackmail Mr. Fitz into changing the grade on his paper. Mr. Fitz writes "Gatsby = the corruption of the American Dream" before Noel enters. It is still assigned reading in "Salt Meets Wound." Later, in "Blind Dates," a certain billboard near a pawn shop is very reminiscent of the one described in the book.
  • "Winesburg, Ohio" by Sherwood Anderson (1919) - In "Someone to Watch Over Me," Aria almost puts this book, which Ezra gave and dedicated to her - in her bag of Ezra paraphernalia to be hidden, but leaves it out in her room. When Byron enters Aria's room looking for clues as to the identity of his daughter's secret boyfriend, he holds the book and almost opens it until Ella criticizes him for snooping.
  • "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare (~1600) - At the end of "The New Normal," we see "A" visiting Mrs. Potter's grave. Her gravestone has an epitaph engraved upon it: "Mrs. Esther Marie Potter (1929-2011) To sleep, perchance to dream." The line is from Hamlet's soliloquy (III, i, 64) in which he contemplates suicide and in a general way, refers to a blissful state of death.
  • "The Bad Seed" by William March (1954) - The episode "The Badass Seed" is a cheeky reference to this book, which was adapted into a Broadway play by the same name. In the episode, Mr. Fitz chooses this play for a school production, in which all the Pretty Little Liars and Mona participate. Jenna composes music for the play because she oddly finds it "inspiring."
  • "An Essay on Man, Epistle I" by Alexander Pope (1733) - Byron jokes to Ezra in "The Badass Seed" while the latter is putting up English literature on the bulletin boards, hoping the students will take note of it, that "Hope springs eternal," a direct quote from the essayist who had what to say about formal education.
  • "Bloody Tantrums: Child Mysteries" by Francesca Rollins - Spencer is seen reading this book in "The Badass Seed." It is not a real book and Francesca Rollins is the writer of the episode.
  • "1984" by George Orwell (1948) - Jenna makes a joke to Aria in the girls bathroom during "A Person of Interest" that she should suggest to Mr. Fitz that he assign 1984, an appropriate reflection of their lives: There always seems to be a conspiracy, involving someone omniscient watching them like "Big Brother." What's really weird is that Jenna addresses Aria without Aria announcing her presence. How did this supposedly blind girl know she was there?
  • "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Ernest Hemingway (1940) - The Season 1 finale episode has the same title as this book, though there is little thematic connection between the two, aside from the book's preoccupation with death. The episode seems to have been named for its literal reference of Ian seemingly dying while simultaneously ringing the church bells. Later, the same church bells toll for him in the normal way at his funeral. In season 2, in "It's Alive," it is clear that Mr. Fitz is teaching Ernest Hemingway in class, as Hemingway's name appears on the board, alongside Leslie Fiedler and Rena Sanderson, two American novel experts and modern-day critics of Hemingway's work. "Male-centric" and "inverting the American literary theme" are two common critiques of Hemingway's work that also grace the blackboard.
  • "The Dharma Bums" by Jack Kerouac (1958) - Toby is seen reading this book in "For Whom the Bell Tolls." It is an American novel loosely based on events in the author's life, when he was first introduced to Buddhism.

Season 2

  • "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley (1818) - The second season's first episode title, "It's Alive" refers to what Victor Frankenstein said in the horror novel after creating an artificial monster.
  • "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger (1951) - Holden Strauss's first name is an obvious reference to the protagonist of Salinger's novel, Holden Caulfield.
  • "To Kill A Mockingbird" - In the Halloween special episode, "The First Secret" the address of the creepy house is 313 Mockingbird and the name of the asylum car outside is Radley.
  • "The Goodbye Look" by Ross MacDonald/Kenneth (1969) - The second episode of Season 2 appropriately shares a title with this American crime novel, involving a crime investigation, wherein the prime suspect, like Ian, is a missing person. It was a bestseller in its time.
  • "Harriet the Spy" by Louise Fitzhugh (1964) - In "My Name Is Trouble," Emily tells Spencer to stop playing this eponymous character, a curious young girl who takes upon herself the role of a spy, observing and recording the actions of the local townsfolk. In the episode, Spencer takes it upon herself to spy on her sister and find out if Melissa is hiding Ian.
  • "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" by Carson McCullers (1940) - Emily attempts to read this in "The Devil You Know," but is distracted by the thought of Ian's suicide note and its similarity to "A's" messages. This book pops up again in "Through Many Dangers, Toils, and Snares" when Emily and Spencer secretly trade books to pass messages.
  • "Over My Dead Body" by Rex Stout (1940) - The episode by the same title alludes to a Nero Wolf detective novel involving a dangerous larceny and murder investigation.
  • "James Bond" by Ian Fleming (1953) - Emily calls Spencer "Jane Bond," the female variation of the daredevil spy in "Picture This."
  • "Pollyanna" by Eleanor H. Porter (1913) - In "Touched by an 'A'-ngel," Mona compares Hanna to the optimistic orphan Pollyanna after Hanna tries to make the best of her ugly bridesmaid dress and future step family. Hanna hilariously doesn't get the reference and answers "Polly Who?"
  • "The Prophet" by Gibran Khalil Gibran (جبران خليل جبران) - (1923) - The witty aphorisms of this Lebanese-American poet were made part of Isabel's and Tom's wedding ceremony in "Over My Dead Body," as recited by the minister: "Give one another of your bread, but eat not from the same loaf." Predictably, the quotes were from the "Essay On Marriage."
  • "On Writing" by Ivy Dunbar - After seeing Ezra on Main Street and promising to return his book to him, Aria goes to Ezra's office to deliver the book with a love note attached to the cover.
  • "A View From the Bridge" by Arthur Miller (1955) - In "Let the Water Hold Me Down," Aria and Holden attend this play at the Rangely Playhouse. Ezra and Mrs. Welch also had tickets to this play.
  • "Lolita" (or "Лолита") by Vladimir Nabokov (1955) - In "A Kiss Before Lying," Hanna reveals that she had stolen Alison's copy of Nabokov's book after seeing Alison obsessing over it. Although she'd intended to return it, she kept the novel with the heart-shaped sunglasses on the cover, her curiosity piqued. When Spencer discusses Alison's fake photo ID card featuring a black-haired Alison, Hanna shares with her friend how she had unwittingly discovered Alison's assumed alter ego, "Vivian Darkbloom" one day in a beauty salon. Alison had asked Hanna to play along. In fact, Vivian Darkbloom is an anagram of Vladimir Nabokov, the author's name, and understood by most literary critics to be the pseudonym he used for cameo-appearances in his own novels. After Spencer learns the name of Alison's alias, an online search leads her and Hanna to the stolen copy of "Lolita," in which they find a claim check stub for a yet unidentified object. The book itself is about pedophilia and incest. The plot centers on a middle-aged literature professor named Humbert Humbert, who is obsessed with a 12-year-old named Dolores Haze; Humbert becomes sexually involved with the girl after she becomes his stepdaughter. The nature of Alison's fascination with the book is yet unclear.

Season 3

  • "Harry Potter" series by J.K. Rowling (1997) - Spencer references Harry Potter in "It Happened 'That Night'" when she says, "So basically Ezra is like Lord Voldemort," referring to the way his name is not to be mentioned in her household. Also, at "Will The Circle Be Unbroken?" when Spencer was at Radley's Mona quotes Luna Lovegood: "You're not crazy, you're just as sane as I am." Also CeCe makes a reference to book one saying "We didn't kill a unicorn." Because killing a unicorn is crime.
  • "Hedda Gabler" by Henrik Ibsen (1890) - Ella assigns this play to her English class in "It Happened 'That Night'" and continues to discuss it in "Blood Is The New Black." Many correlations can be drawn between the play and the show as the main character is a gender-role challenging manipulative sociopath who blackmails people for fun.
  • "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925) - In the Halloween special, "This Is A Dark Ride", Aria dresses up as Daisy from the book. Spencer also asks where her "Gatsby" is, in which she is referring to Ezra.
  • "Ethan Frome" by Edith Wharton (1911) - Ezra tutors Emily on this book in "Blood Is The New Black."
  • "The Remains of the Day" by Kazuo Ishiguro (1989) - The episode entitled, "The Remains of the 'A'" was an overt reference to the Japanese-British author's somber award-winning novel. The book deals with the existential crisis of an elderly butler reflecting on his life's work for a Nazi war criminal.
  • "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley (1931) - Aria picks up a copy of this book while she is at Ezra's apartment in "The Lady Killer." It is about a futuristic society in London where reproduction takes place in factories, most citizens regularly get high on a drug called soma, and the government has complete control over its people's behavior. We can assume the book is assigned reading for English class since it is commonly on the reading list for high school seniors.
  • "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding (1954) - Emily is reading this for English class in "Misery Loves Company." She says that she relates to the boys in the book because she and her friends stuck together through tough times and are stronger because of it.
  • "Something Wicked This Way Comes" by Ray Bradbury (1962) and "Macbeth" by Shakespeare (ca 1706) - Ella is seen erasing her board in class which says "From Macbeth," "Ray Bradbury 1962," and the quote, "By the pricking of my thumb something wicked this way comes" in "I'm Your Puppet" just before Hanna enters the classroom and they discuss the missing church bell. The Bradbury novel is about an evil carnival that comes to the small town. In this episode, a carnival has come to Rosewood and an "A-Team" plot against Aria is executed there.
  • "Nine Stories" by J. D. Salinger (1953) - Spencer is seen reading this book in her room at Radley Sanitarium in "I'm Your Puppet" when Eddie enters to give her a pill. This Salinger collection includes tales about characters who suffer from mental health problems, including suicidal depression, paranoid delusions, and PTSD.
  • "Faust" by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1808) - It is revealed this is the puppet show Spencer, as A, takes Malcolm to in "I'm Your Puppet." Faust is a story of a scholarly man who makes a deal with the devil to get everything he wants while on earth. Presumably Spencer has made this pact with the devil when she agrees to join Mona and the "A-Team." This theme is alluded to again in "A DAngerous GAme" when Spencer says she made a deal with the devil while in Radley.

Season 4

  • "Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck (1939) - Although the book title is never given, it can be assumed Aria is reading the book for Ezra's English class based on her comments in "A is for A-L-I-V-E."  When the Vice Principal starts approaching Aria when he sees her staring at Ezra in the courtyard she starts a fake discussion with Emily how in the story "Steinbeck uses the farmer as a metaphor for his frustration".   Her attempt is in vain as the Vice Principal continues to watch her suspiciously.
  • "East of Eden" by John Steinbeck (1952) - In "Turn of the Shoe," Mr. Fitz offers this book as extra credit reading in English class for those students who didn't already have enough doomed romance.  
  • "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath (1963) - In "The Mirror Has Three Faces," Hanna asks Caleb to help her get into Radley.  Caleb tells Hanna that she should not trust Mona and she should tell the police about "A."  He says, "They're doing a psych evaluation for a reason, Hanna.  First A used a sedan as a wrecking ball on Emily's house, and then Jenna shows up in a lake looking like soggy bread, and now you want to go to Radley and ring the bell jar?"  The Bell Jar is about a woman who takes a summer internship in New York City; having spent most of her life focused on succeeding academically, she is dissatisfied with society's options for women and she is not sure what to do with her life.  She becomes depressed and disappears, leaving others to presume she is dead, but she is later found living underneath her house and is subsequently sent to a mental institution.  The protagonist is similar to Spencer's character in her academic and feminist perspectives, while her disappearance and presumed death may be similar to Alison DiLaurentis.
  • "Harry Potter" series by J.K. Rowling (1997) - Spencer references Harry Potter again in "Gamma Zeta Die!" when she says, " I need answers from a guy who spends his weekends pretending to be a Hufflepuff ".
  • "The Lottery" short story by Shirley Jackson (1948) - In "Hot for Teacher " Ezra confronts Spencer in the hallway regarding her shoddy essay on Shirley Jacksons short story which is unnamed in the scene.  Since this is Jackson's most famous piece it can be assumed.  The story suggests a sinister side to small town USA and has been described as a chilling tale of conformity gone mad.
  • "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886) - Ezra has given his students an assignment to read the book and make a test about it. He also has been writing several quotes from the book on his blackboard. Writers of the show revealed that we'll find a very Jekyll and Hyde factor of Ezra during the season.
  • "Along Came a Spider" by James Patterson (1993)
  • "Body of Evidence" by Patricia Cornwell (1991)
  • "Breakfast at Tiffany's" by Truman Capote (1958) - in this novella, Paul "Fred" Varjack falls in love with Holly Golightly, even though she is under the pursuit of many men (including the wealthy Rusty Trawler). At the end of the novella, Holly disappears and Paul only hears of her through a postcard years later. Paul and Holly's relationship inspires that of Alison and Ezra, as he is a budding writer and she is a beautiful extrovert - also after her disappearence, Ezra writes a novel about Alison, discussing not only her circumstance but also the way she acted and lived her life, like Paul does for Holly.

Season 5

  • "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu (~960-1279) - Spencer gives the battle plan that will lead them to victory and survival when she references Sun Tzu (孫子): "A wise commander takes measures to always let his opponent react to the wrong set of circumstances." To which Alison replies erroneously in petulant snark: "There is no art to this war, Spencer." Spencer replies surprised: "You've read Sun Tzu?" Spencer pulling relevant strategy from "The Art of War"(兵法) and Ali's reaction to it underscores how Spencer is a far superior leader for the group and how Alison is a liability whose unwillingness to follow is dangerous to the group's united front. Even though Alison may be trying to bond again with Spencer, her language is clearly trying to negate Spencer's leadership. If Alison is in fact familiar with Sun Tzu she may know that in Sun Tzu's eyes, her attack on Spencer's leadership would be met with Spencer (The General) murdering Alison (The Rebellious Soldier) in front of the group.
  • "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allen Poe (1843) -In Season 5B, it is revealed that Mona enjoyed reading Edgar Allen Poe stories, although it is not specifically stated which stories, she has a large book of Poe's work which probably includes The Tell-tale Heart. At the end of the Tell-tale heart the main character is locked in a padded cell (accused of being mad), his thoughts are said as if spoken out loud, however only in his head - this scene mirrors Mona's first scene in Radley (in unmAsked), where she looks forward and states "They think it's over, loser Mona's going to the nut-house and those precious Liars are going home to sleep with their windows open and their doors unlocked don't they know that's what we want."

Season 6

  • "Songs of Innocence" and "Songs of Experience" are poetry collections by English poet William Blake as well as episode titles. They are meant to display the halves of the soul.
  • Winter Chill by Joanne Fluke. Charlotte Dilaurentis was reading this book when Alison and Jason went to visit her in Of Late I think Of Rosewood. Summery for the book, " The moment Marian Larson sees the patrol car outside her house, she is filled with foreboding. The news is worse than she feared.There has been a snowmobile crash. Her husband is paralyzed and her younger daughter is dead. Friends and family rally around for help and comfort. But soon, there are more horrible tragedies. Then rumors start. And as winter starts, the search for answers will reveal a killer whose blood runs colder than the blinding snow."
  • The 12th episode of the sixth season is titled Charlotte's web. The same title as E. B. White's children's novel, "Charlotte's Web." It also refers to Charlotte's murder.
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