25 incredible quotes about mothers and daughters from literature

Posted by
Jasmine Andersson
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Words by Jasmine Anderrson

The union between a mother and daughter is completely unlike any other relationship we know.

Whether that bond revolves around a dose of sass or sentimental oversharing, every set-up between a mother and a daughter is unique – each one like a snowflake or a grain of sand – and we wouldn’t have it any other way.  However it can be hard to put all of that love, and friendship, and general awesomeness,  into words.

Thankfully, some of the world’s most famous authors have done it for us. Here we round up the quotes from literature that best encapsulate the mother-daughter bond. 

Tissues at the ready...

  • A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

    "What must I do, Mother, what must I do to make a different world for her? How do I start?”

    “The secret lies in the reading and the writing. You are able to read. Every day you must read one page from some good book to your child. Every day this must be until the child learns to read. Then she must read every day, I know this is the secret.”

    “I will read,” promised Katie. “What is a good book?"

     — Betty Smith

    Buy A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

  • Birds of a Lesser Paradise

    “Mothers, I believe, intoxicate us. We idolize them and take them for granted. We hate them and blame them and exalt them more thoroughly than anyone else in our lives. We sift through the evidence of their love, reassure ourselves of their affection and its biological genesis. We can steal and lie and leave and they will love us.” 

    ― Megan Mayhew Bergman

    Buy Birds of a Lesser Paradise

  • Gadis Pantai

    “A mother knows what her child’s gone through, even if she didn’t see it herself.”

    ― Pramoedya Ananta Toer

    Buy Gadis Pantai

  • Eden

    "A mother's love is everything, Jared. It is what brings a child into this world. It is what moulds their entire being. When a mother sees her child in danger, she is literally capable of anything. Mothers have lifted cars off of their children, and destroyed entire dynasties. A mother's love is the strongest energy known to man. You must that love, and its power."

    ― Jamie McGuire

    Buy Eden

  • Have Space Suit ― Will Travel

    "Being a mother is an attitude, not a biological relation."

    — Robert A. Heinlein 

    Buy Have Space Suit ― Will Travel

  • Letters From Motherless Daughters

    "There is an emptiness inside of me- a void that will never be filled. No one in your life will ever love you as your mother does. There is no love as pure, unconditional and strong as a mother's love. And I will never be loved that way again." 

    — Hope Edelman

    Buy Letters From Motherless Daughters

  • Matilda

    "It's a funny thing about mothers... Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful." 

    — Roald Dahl

    Buy Matilda


  • Little Women

    "The clocks were striking midnight and the rooms were very still as a figure glided quietly from bed to bed, smoothing a coverlid here, settling a pillow there, and pausing to look long and tenderly at each unconscious face, to kiss each with lips that mutely blessed, and to pray the fervent prayers which only mothers utter." 

    — Louisa May Alcott

    Buy Little Women

  • One Plus One

    "The only thing Jess really cared about were those two children and letting them know they were okay. Because even if the whole world was throwing rocks at you, if you had your mother at your back, you'd be okay. Some deep-rooted part of you would know you were loved. That you deserved to be loved."

    — Jojo Moyes 

    Buy One Plus One 

  • I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

    "To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow."

    — Maya Angelou

    Buy I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings 

  • The Bonesetter's Daughter

    “A mother is always the beginning. She is how things begin."

    ― Amy Tan

    Buy The Bonesetter’s Daughter

  • The Dovekeepers

    "Even as a small child, I understood that woman had secrets, and that some of these were only to be told to daughters. In this way we were bound together for eternity." 

    — Alice Hoffman

    Buy The Dovekeepers

  • End Of Days

    “My mother hasn’t asked the questions that a normal person would ask, and I’m grateful for it. It’s like the world has become so crazy that it makes sense to her now. I turn on the engine and drive us out. ‘Thanks, Mom. For coming to rescue me.’ My voice comes out reedy and a little wobbly. I clear my throat. ‘Not every mom would do that in a world like this.” 

    ― Susan Ee

    Buy End of Days

  • The Last Seance

    "A mother's love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity. It dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path."

     — Agatha Christie 

    Buy The Last Seance

  • Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

    "Here’s something about Mum: she’s bad with annoyances, but great in a crisis. If a waiter doesn’t refill her water after she’s asked three times, or she forgets her dark glasses when the sun comes out, look out! But when it comes to something truly bad happening, Mom plugs into this supreme calm." 

     — Maria Semple

    Buy Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

  • The Secret Life of Bees

    "I knew then that no matter how hard you tried, no matter how many jars of honey you threw, no matter how much you thought you could leave your mother behind, she would never disappear from the tender places in you." 

    — Sue Monk Kidd

    Buy The Secret Life of Bees

  • The Language of Flowers

    "Over time, we would learn each other and I would learn to love her like a mother loves a daughter, imperfectly and without roots." 

    — Vanessa Diffenbaugh

    Buy The Language of Flowers 

  • Hot Milk

    “My love for my mother is like an axe. It cuts very deep." 

    — Deborah Levy 

    Buy Hot Milk

  • The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

    "Mother was a beautiful young woman; the house was too plain, too small to contain her. I watched her; for the first time I understood that she had an inner life that didn't have anything to do with me or my brothers and sisters." 

    — Ayana Mathis

    Buy The Twelve Tribes of Hattie 

  • The Handmaid's Tale

    “No mother is ever, completely, a child's idea of what a mother should be, and I suppose it works the other way around as well.”

    ― Margaret Atwood

    Buy The Handmaid’s Tale

  • Wives and Daughters

    “...sudden tears coming into her eyes as a recollection came before her like a picture seen long ago and forgotten for years – a young mother washing and dressing her little girl; placing the half-naked darling on her knee, and twining the wet rings of dark hair fondly round her fingers, and then, in ecstasy of fondness, kissing the little curly head."

    — Elizabeth Gaskell

    Buy Wives and Daughters

  • Wild

    "Blood is thicker than water, my mother had always said when I was growing up, a sentiment I’d often disputed. But it turned out that it didn’t matter whether she was right or wrong. They both flowed out of my cupped palms." 

    — Cheryl Strayed

    Buy Wild 

  • White Oleander

    “You were my home, Mother. I had no home but you”

    ― Janet Fitch

    Buy White Oleander

  • NW

    “Mothers are urgently trying to tell something to their daughters, and this urgency is precisely what repels their daughters, forcing them to turn away. Mothers are left stranded, madly holding a lump of London clay, some grass, some white tubers, a dandelion, a fat worm passing the world through itself.”

    — Zadie Smith

    Buy NW

  • Clarice Lispector: The Complete Stories

    "An egg is a thing that must be careful. That's why the chicken is the egg's disguise. The chicken exists so that the egg can traverse the ages. That's what a mother is for." 

    — Clarice Lispector

    Buy The Complete Stories


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Jasmine Andersson

When she isn't talking about her emotional attachment to meal deals or serenading unfortunate individuals with David Bowie power solos in karaoke booths, Jasmine writes about gender, politics and culture as a freelance journalist. She wastes her days tweeting @the__chez