words & words & words

“I read The Life of Charlotte Brontë…I dreamed a nineteenth-century sort of life, walks and studying, rectitude, courtesy, maidenhood, peacefulness.”

Lives of Girls and Women, Alice Munro

“The events that follow transpired many years ago. Queen Victoria was on the throne of England, but she was not yet the black-clad widow of Windsor: she had apples in her cheeks and a spring in her step, and Lord Melbourne often had cause to upbraid, gently, the young queen for her flightiness. She was, as yet, unmarried, although she was very much in love.”

Stardust, by Neil Gaiman

These are the quotes, from a wide variety of literary genres, that I wish I had written.  These are the quotes that make me want to read forever and, in the words of Sir Philip Sidney, pick up my own pen “‘and write'”.

“Go, girl, seek happy nights to happy days.” 

– Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare

“This above all: To thine own self be true.” – Hamlet, Shakespeare

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” – Paradise Lost, Milton

“‘Fool,’ said my Muse to me, ‘look in thy heart and write’.” – “Astrophil and Stella”, Sir Philip Sidney

“Do not be in a hurry…the right Man will come at last.” – Jane Austen

“Henry Crawford had destroyed her happiness, but he should not know that he had done it; he should not destroy her credit, her appearance, her prosperity too.” – Mansfield Park, Jane Austen

“What did she say? – Just what she ought, of course. A lady always does.” – Emma, Jane Austen

“‘If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more’.” – Emma, Jane Austen

“She longed to know what at that moment was passing in his mind; in what manner he thought of her, and whether, in defiance of everything, she was still dear to him.” – Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

“‘All is changed about me, sir; I must change too—there is no doubt of that; and to avoid fluctuations of feeling, and continual combats with recollections and associations, there is only one way—Adèle must have a new governess, sir.’”

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

“The truest love that ever heart / Felt at its kindled core, / Did through each vein, in quickened start, / The tide of being pour …. I dreamed it would be nameless bliss, / As I loved, loved to be; / And to this object did I press / As blind as eagerly …. My love has sworn, with sealing kiss, / With me to live – to die / I have at last my nameless bliss: / As I love – loved am I!”

– Rochester’s Song for Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

“‘You have attacked me without provocation: I shall defend myself without apology’.” – Shirley, Charlotte Brontë

 “‘I am anchored on a resolve you cannot shake. My heart, my conscience shall dispose of my hand – they only. Know this at last’.” – Shirley, Charlotte Brontë

“She looked upon herself as a figure of Guilt intruding into the haunts of Innocence.” – Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy

“‘I wish you to know that you have been the last dream of my soul’.” – A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

“‘One word more. You look as if you thought it tainted you to be loved by me. You cannot avoid it. Nay, I, if I would, cannot cleanse you from it. But I would not, if I could. I have never loved any woman before: my life has been too busy, my thoughts too much absorbed with other things. Now I love, and will love. But do not be afraid of too much expression on my part’.”

North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell

“‘Go everywhere,’ he said at last, in a low, kind voice, ‘do everything; get everything out of life. Be happy – be triumphant’.” – Portrait of a Lady, Henry James

“If you can’t appreciate what you’ve got, you’d better get what you can appreciate.” – Pygmalion, George Bernard Shaw

“And so she evolved this atheist’s religion of doing good for the sake of goodness.” – Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf

“‘Feel, feel, I say – feel for all you’re worth, and even if it half kills you…’” – Henry James quoted in Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi

“He took her up on it, he shouted yes. He wanted to never be away from her. She had the spark of life.” – “The Bear Came Over the Mountain”, Alice Munro

“This is ridiculous. This I do not accept.” – “Tricks”, Alice Munro

“But that was not what mattered. That was not going to keep you from damage.” – “Wenlock Edge”, Alice Munro

“Failing in love isn’t the same as not loving.” – Angels in America, Tony Kushner

“She wanted a book to take her places she couldn’t get to herself.” – The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Eugenides

“Long ago, men went to sea, and women waited for them, standing on the edge of the water, scanning the horizon for the tiny ship. Now I wait for Henry. He vanishes unwillingly, without warning. I wait for him. Each moment that I wait feels like a year, an eternity. Each moment is as slow and transparent as glass. Through each moment I can see infinite moments lined up, waiting. Why has he gone where I cannot follow?” – The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger

“I want. That’s all. I am wanting.” – The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger

“‘To happiness. To here and now.’”

“‘To world enough and time.’” – The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger

“There is only one page to write on. I will fill it with words of only one syllable: I love. I have loved. I will love.”

“‘You do not fear…You do not falter. You do not yield….Remember that you are a wolf. And you cannot be caged.’” – A Court of Wings and Ruin, Sarah J. Maas

“‘Only you can decide what breaks you, Cursebreaker.’” – A Court of Wings and Ruin, Sarah J. Maas

“He was the home I’d been looking for my whole life.” – The First Last Kiss, Ali Harris

“Now I feel like I was born loving him which means meeting him could never have happened early enough.” – The First Last Kiss, Ali Harris

“Love is a wordless secret; it’s an inside joke. Only the two of you have to understand it.” – Wish You Were Here, Renée Carlino

“‘Lover? I don’t know. I don’t know if she loves me. I don’t know if I love her. All I can say is, she’s the one I think about. All the time. She’s the voice I want to hear. She’s the face I hope to see’.” – I’ve Got Your Number, Sophie Kinsella

“‘I see a brilliant answer to the whole problem. It’s retro! It’s tried and tested! Did Queen Victoria have sex before she married Albert? And was their marriage a huge success? Did she love him desperately and build a great big memorial to him in Hyde Park? Exactly. Did Romeo and Juliet have sex before they got married? …. Did Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy have sex before they got married?’” – Wedding Night, Sophie Kinsella

“I just tried to be, tried to absorb the man I loved through osmosis, tried to imprint what I had left of him on myself.” – Me Before You, Jojo Moyes

“He taught me things in the space of two minutes that the span of my lifetime did not.” – The Hating Game, Sally Thorne

“Everyone’s past, I try to rationalize, is nothing more than the collection of memories they choose to remember.” – The Gargoyle, Andrew Davidson

“‘I must’ve wished for you so hard and so often you had no choice but to come true’.” – Bared to You, Sylvia Day

“If this continues, if this goes on, then when I die, your memories of me will be my greatest accomplishment. Your memories will be my most lasting impression.” – The Lover’s Dictionary, David Levithan

“How was it those two girls could not see what was before their own eyes, how Émile made me step light and breathe deep? The feeling was like the one that comes on the first day of spring – with the sunshine and the warm breezes and the whole world waking up – except that the day kept coming again and again.” – The Painted Girls, Cathy Marie Buchanan

“Only after you have made a decision that is a leap in the dark can you know what a big mistake you have made, and by then it is too late. You have decided.” – J. Hillis Miller

« Toujours aimer, toujours souffrir, toujours mourir. » – Corneille

« Mais toujours de mon cœur ma bouche est l’interprète. » – Britannicus, Racine

« Vois-tu, je sais que tu m’attends. » – « Demain dès l’aube » – Victor Hugo

« Et tous les chers amours dont nous sommes les tombes, Et toutes les clartés dont nous sommes les nuits… » – « Claire », Victor Hugo

« Un diamant avec quelques défauts est préférable à une simple pierre qui n’en a pas. »


  1. Tammy Brophy says:

    Very interesting and inspiring quotes Janille!

    1. JanilleNG says:

      Thank you! I’m glad you like them!

  2. Tajja Isen says:

    This page is such a great addition to the blog! Lovely literary selections–it definitely inspires me to pick up some of these volumes. I really enjoyed the post on the Emma web series, too! 🙂

    1. JanilleNG says:

      Thanks, Tajja! I was hoping to select quotes from a wide variety of time periods and genres, so I’m glad you’ve found something you’re interested in! 🙂

  3. Tony Giambattista says:

    love your favourite quotes, but I was disappointed to not see any from the greatest poet of all time, Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen.

    1. JanilleNG says:

      I agree, Springsteen is a powerful writer! I may need to add a Favourite Quotes from Music page soon! 🙂

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