20 Most Inspiring Literary Women Ever

Women have been known to form strong and powerful characters in a book’s story. So, we’ve compiled a list of the most incredible females through the history of literature.

1. Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice)

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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.”

2. Jane Eyre (Jane Eyre)

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Charlotte Bronte

“Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! – I have as much soul as you, – and full as much heart!”

3. Beatrice (Much Ado About Nothing)

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William Shakespeare

“What should I do with him – dress him in my apparel and make him my waiting gentlewoman? He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man; and he that is more than a youth is not for me, and he that is less than a man, I am not for him.”

4. Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables)

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Lucy Maud

“There’s such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I’m such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.”

5. Jo March (Little Women)

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Louisa May Alcott

“It’s bad enough to be a girl anyway, when I like boys’ games and work and manners! I can’t get over my disappointment in not being a boy; and it’s worse than ever now, for I’m dying to go and fight with Papa, and I can only stay at home and knit, like a poky old woman.”

6. Anna Karenina (Anna Karenina)

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Leo Tolstoy

“Above all, I wouldn’t want people to think that I want to prove anything. I don’t want to prove anything; I merely want to live.”

7. Matilda Wormwood (Matilda)

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Roald Dahl

“Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it’s unbelievable.”

8. Cleopatra (Antony and Cleopatra)

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William Shakespeare

“I will not be triumphed over.”

9. Gwendolen Fairfax (The Importance of Being Earnest)

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Oscar Wilde

“Of course I will, darling. How long you have been about it! I am afraid you have had very little experience in how to propose.”

10. Medea (Medea)

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Euripides

“We bid the highest price in dowries

Just to buy some man

To be dictator of our bodies..

How that compounds the wrong!”

11. Marquise De Merteuil (Dangerous Liaisons)

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Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

“The shame love causes is like its pain; we only feel it once. We may feign it afterwards, but we do not feel it. However, the pleasure remains, and that is indeed something.”

12. Kay Scarpetta (Postmortem)

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Patricia Cornwell

“The dead have never bothered me. It’s the living that I fear.”

13. Miss Jean Brodie (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie)

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Muriel Spark

“These years are still the years of my prime. It is important to recognise the years of one’s prime, always remember that.”

14. Catherine Earnshaw (Wuthering Heights)

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Emily Bronte

“I wish I were a girl again, half savage and hardy, and free … Why am I so changed? I’m sure I should be myself were I once among the heather on those hills.”

15. Eliza Doolittle (Pygmalion)

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George Bernard Shaw

“I’m a respectable girl: so help me, I never spoke to him except to ask him to buy a flower off me.. They’ll take away my character and drive me on the streets for speaking to gentlemen.”

16. Anne Frank (The Diary of a Young Girl)

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Anne Frank

“I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out.”

17. Kinsey Malone (D is for Deadbeat)

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Sue Grafton

“I love being single. It’s almost like being rich.”

18. Aurora Leigh (Aurora Leigh)

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Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“You misconceive the question like a mna,

Who sees a woman as the complement

Of his sex merely. You forget too much

That every creature, female as the male,

Stands single in responsible act and thought

As also in birth and death.”

 19. Mrs Ramsay (To the Lighthouse)

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Virginia Woolf

“[S]he could not say it … as she looked at him she began to smile, for though she had not said a word, he knew, of course he knew, that she loved him. He could not deny it. And smiling she looked out of the window and said (thinking to herself, Nothing on earth can equal this happiness) – “Yes, you were right. It’s going to be wet tomorrow. You won’t be able to go.” And she looked at him smiling. For she had triumphed again. She had not said it: yet he knew.”

20. Emma Bovary (Madame Bovary)

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Gustave Flaubert

“Before she married, she thought she was in love; but the happiness that should have resulted from that love, somehow had not come. It seemed to her that she must have made a mistake, have misunderstood in some way or another. And Emma tried hard to discover what, precisely, it was in life that was denoted by the words ‘joy, passion, intoxication’, which had always looked so fine to her in books.”

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