Books

30 inspirational quotes about strength from literature

Posted by
Francesca Brown
Published
Inspirational quotes from literature

In a bad space? We’ve put together some of our favourite wisest and wittiest literary quotes to slowly feel stronger. Featuring nurturing insights from Michelle Obama, Louisa May Alcott, Maya Angelou and George RR Martin, these are the 30 quotes you need to build courage and self-belief in even the trickiest of times. 

Whether work, love, loss, political and global events (or just life in general) are leaving you feeling overwhelmed and uncertain, there is strength to be found in words. 

Looking to some of the greatest writers and poets in the world, we’ve found comforting insights to remind you that you’ve got the inner power to trust your instincts and come out the other side… From autobiographies to poetry via dystopian fiction, read on and be inspired. 

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  • Becoming by Michelle Obama

    Becoming-Michelle-Obama
    Best biographies, autobiographies and memoirs of inspiring women: Becoming by Michelle Obama

    “There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.”

  • Letter To My Daughter by Maya Angelou

    Letter-to-My-Daughter-M-Angelou
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou

    “I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” 

  • A Game Of Thrones by George RR Martin

    A-Game-of-Thromes-George-RR-Martin
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

    “Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”

  • Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen

    Pride-and-Prejudice-Jane-Austen
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

    “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.”

  • A Vindication Of The Rights Of Women by Mary Wollstonecraft

    A-Vindication-Of-The-Rights-Of-Women-by-Mary-Wollstonecraft
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: A Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollstonecraft

    “I earnestly wish to point out in what true dignity and human happiness consists. I wish to persuade women to endeavor to acquire strength, both of mind and body, and to convince them that the soft phrases, susceptibility of heart, delicacy of sentiment, and refinement of taste, are almost synonymous with epithets of weakness, and that those beings are only the objects of pity, and that kind of love which has been termed its sister, will soon become objects of contempt.” 

  • A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway

    A-Farewell-to-Arms-Hemingway
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

    “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” 

  • Circe by Madeline Miller

    Circe by Madeline Miller
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: Circe by Madeline Miller

    “I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began.” 

  • With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo

    With-the-Fire-on-High-Acevedo
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

    “…you can’t control how people look at you, but you can control how far back you pull your shoulders and how high you lift your chin.”

  • Orlando by Virginia Woolf

    Orlando-by Virginia Woolfe
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: Orlando by Virginia Woolf

    “No passion is stronger in the breast of a man than the desire to make others believe as he believes. Nothing so cuts at the root of his happiness and fills him with rage as the sense that another rates low what he prizes high.” 

  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

    Little-Women-LM-Alcott

    “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”

  • Middlemarch by George Eliot

    Middlemarch by George Eliot
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: Middlemarch by George Eliot

    “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

  • Hunger by Roxane Gay

    Hunger-Roxanne-Gay
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: Hunger by Roxanne Gay

    “I am stronger than I am broken.”

  • All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

    All-the-Pretty-Horses-C-McCarthy
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: All the Pretty Horses

    “He said that those who have endured some misfortune will always be set apart but that it is just that misfortune which is their gift and which is their strength and that they must make their way back into the common enterprise of man for without they do so it cannot go forward and they themselves will wither in bitterness.”

  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

    Frankenstein-Shelley
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

    “Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.” 

  • Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In 15 Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    Dear-Ijeawele-or-a-Feminist-Manifesto-in-Fifteen-Suggestions
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

    “Teach her to reject likeability. Her job is not to make herself likeable, her job is to be her full self, a self that is honest and aware of the equal humanity of other people.” 

  • The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

    Amber-Spyglass-Pullman
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

    “Can is not the same as must. But if you must and you can, then there’s no excuse.”

  • The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich

    Painted-Drum-Erdrich
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich

    “Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”

  • Wanderlust: A History Of Walking by Rebecca Solnit

    Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit

    “These moments when individuals find others who share their dreams, when fear is overwhelmed by idealism or by outrage, when people feel a strength that surprises them, are moments in which they become heroes – for what are heroes but those so motivated by ideals that fear cannot sway them, those who speak for us, those who have power for good?”

  • Parable Of The Sower by Octavia E Butler

    Parable Of The Sower by Octavia E Butler
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: Parable Of The Sower by Octavia E Butler

    “The weak can overcome the strong if the weak persist. Persisting isn’t always safe, but it’s often necessary.”

  • The Essential Calvin And Hobbes by Bill Watterson

    Essential-Calvin-Hobbes-Watterson
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: The Essential Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

    “Know what I pray for? The strength to change what I can, the inability to accept what I can’t, and the incapacity to tell the difference.”

  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

    “I remembered that the real world was wide, and that a varied field of hopes and fears, of sensations and excitements, awaited those who had the courage to go forth into its expanse, to seek real knowledge of life amidst its perils.” 

  • Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling

    Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling

    “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” 

  • Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

    Bluebird-A-Locke
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

    “It was a line in the sand for me, a line past which we just weren’t gon’ go, not on my watch. The badge was to say this land is my land, too, my state, my country, and I’m not gon’ be run off. I can stand my ground, too. My people built this, and we’re not going anywhere.” 

  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt

    The-Secret-History-D-Tartt
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

    “If we are strong enough in our souls we can rip away the veil and look that naked, terrible beauty right in the face; let God consume us, devour us, unstring our bones. Then spit us out reborn.”

  • Near To The Wild Heart by Clarice Lispector

    Near To The Wild Heart by Clarice Lispector
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: Near to the Wild Heart by Clarice Lispector

    “I will surpass myself in waves, ah, Lord, and may everything come and fall upon me, even the incomprehension of myself at certain white moments because all I have to do is comply with myself and then nothing will block my path until death-without-fear, from any struggle or rest I will rise up as strong and beautiful as a young horse.” 

  • To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

    To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

    “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” 

  • David And Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, And The Art Of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

    David And Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, And The Art Of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: David And Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, And The Art Of Battling Giants

    “Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness.” 

  • Song Of Solomon by Toni Morrison

    Song-of-Solomon-by-Toni-Morrison
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

    “You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”

  • Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

    Les-Misérables-by-Victor-Hugo
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

    “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”

  • Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson

    Selected Poems_ Tennyson by Alfred Lord Tennyson, Christopher Ricks _ Waterstones
    Inspirational quotes about strength from books and literature: Selected Poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson

    “Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will, To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

Images: Unsplash, courtesy of publishers

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Francesca Brown

Francesca Brown is books editor for Stylist magazine and Stylist Loves; she also compiles the Style List on a weekly basis. She is a self-confessed HBO abuser and has a wide selection of grey sweatshirts. Honestly, you just can’t have enough. @franabouttown

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