by Christie Basson

These quotes are meant to encourage, uplift, and celebrate women today by remembering the generations who came and wrote before us. Spanning more than four thousand years, these words have traveled time and space to find us, penned by individuals who have experienced every walk of life. Written by women of all ages, classes, and geographies, these words prove that throughout time women have been resilient, funny, brave, intellectual, and hopeful in the face of every effort to suppress them. This month, we celebrate their legacies and remember that they did not live and write in vain. 

Some of these quotations might take you by surprise – see if you can guess their original time period and author before revealing the answer by highlighting it!

1. “You are your best thing.”

1987: Toni Morrison, Beloved

2. “I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.”

1847: Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

3. “Well, we never expected this!” they all say. “No one liked her. They all said she was pretentious, awkward, difficult to approach, prickly, too fond of her tales, haughty, prone to versifying, disdainful, cantankerous, and scornful. But when you meet her, she is strangely meek, a completely different person altogether!” How embarrassing! Do they really look upon me as a dull thing, I wonder? But I am what I am.”

― 1008 – 1010: Murasaki Shikibu, The Diary of Lady Murasaki

4. “There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.”

― 1813: Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

5. “Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all.”

―1861: Emily Dickinson, “Hope Is The Thing With Feathers”

6. “Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.”

― 1928: Zora Neale Hurston, How It Feels to Be Colored Me

7. “Now you see,’ said the turtle, drifting back into the pond, ‘why it is useless to cry. Your tears do not wash away your sorrows. They feed someone else’s joy. And that is why you must learn to swallow your own tears.”

― 1989: Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club

8. “I say,

It’s in the reach of my arms

The span of my hips,

The stride of my step,

The curl of my lips.

I’m a woman


Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.”

― 1978: Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal Woman

9. “I do know that for the sympathy of one living being, I would make peace with all. I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.”

― 1818: Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

10. “Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”

― 1929: Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

11. “Watch and pray, dear, never get tired of trying, and never think it is impossible to conquer your fault.”

― 1868: Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

12. “Women are wonderful realists.”

― 1936: Agatha Christie, Murder in Mesopotamia

13. “Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”

― 1960: Harper Lee, “To Kill A Mockingbird”

14. “Women, who struggle and suffer pain to ensure the continuation of the human race, make much tougher and more courageous soldiers than all those big-mouthed freedom-fighting heroes put together!” 

― 1944: Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

15. “Although only breath, words which I command are immortal.”

620 – 570 BCE: Sappho

16. “Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work.”

1977: Adrienne Rich, “Claiming an Education”

17. “For you know that any evil spoken of women so generally only hurts those who say it, not women themselves.”

― 1405: Christine de Pizan, The Book of the City of Ladies

18. “If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again!” 

― 1851: Sojourner Truth, “Ain’t I A Woman?”

19. “My mother always told me, ‘Hide your face people are looking at you.’ I would reply, ‘It does not matter; I am also looking at them.’”

―2012: Malala Yousafzai, I Am Malala

20. “If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

― 1776: Abigail Adams, Letter to John Adams

21. “If men have no respect for the most excellent creature in the world, then what will they respect? No other created thing is the equal of woman—not even man, as men themselves must needs confess.”  

1597: Modesta Pozzo, The Worth of Women: Wherein Is Clearly Revealed Their Nobility and Superiority to Men

22. “I will no longer be made to feel ashamed of existing. I will have my voice: Indian, Spanish, white. I will have my serpent’s tongue-my woman’s voice, my sexual voice, my poet’s voice. I will overcome the tradition of silence.”

1987: Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza

23. “I am obnoxious to each carping tongue

Who says my hand a needle better fits,

A poet’s pen all scorn I should thus wrong,

For such despite they cast on female wits:

If what I do prove well, it won’t advance,

They’ll say it’s stolen, or else it was by chance.

1650: Anne Bradstreet, “The Prologue”

24. Yes, injured Woman! rise, assert thy right!

Woman! too long degraded, scorned, opprest;

O born to rule in partial Law’s despite,

Resume thy native empire o’er the breast!

1792: Anna Lætitia Barbauld, The Rights of Women

25. “Instead, I got angry, and anger when it is used to act, when it is used nonviolently, has power.”

1993: Sandra Cisneros, Introduction to The House on Mango Street

26. “O, woman, what a splendid being you are! For you have set your foundation in the sun, and have conquered the world.”

1148: Hildegard of Bingen, “Letter to Congregation of Nuns” from The Letters of Hildegard Vol 1

27. “It is lonesome, yes. For we are the last of the loud.

Nevertheless, live.

Conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the 

― 1968: Gwendolyn Brooks, “The Second Sermon of The Warpland ” from In the Mecca

28. “I had forgotten this chant that was once mine, given me by my mother, who may not have know its power to remind. She said I would grow up to a wife and a slave, but she taught me the song of the warrior woman, Fa Mu Lan. I would have to grow up a warrior woman.”

― 1975: Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior

29. “Women are wonderful realists.”

1936: Agatha Christie, Murder in Mesopotamia

30.  “Holy Woman grounds your hallowed chamber / with desire / your queen Inanna of the sheepfold / that singular woman / the unique one / who speaks hateful words to the wicked / who moves among the bright shining things / who goes against rebel lands / and at twilight makes the firmament beautiful / all on her own.”

― 2285 – 2250 BCE: Enheduanna, “Temple Hymn 26”

Posted by:hothouselitjournal

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