Our favourite mothers in literature
‘Mothers are all slightly insane’
J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
Ahead of Mother’s Day we’ve put together a list of our favourite literary mums.
These ladies might not come close to our own dear mums when it comes to being kind, supportive and patient and, for the most part, growing up with them would have been a complete nightmare, but they’re still a lot of fun to read about.
‘a strange creature from the time when gherkins were still the height of sophistication’
Meet Bridget, the original Singleton, as she records her hopes, dreams and Chardonnay consumption.
Ma in Emma Donoghue's Room
'"You must feel an almost pathological need—understandably—to stand guard between your son and the world."
“Yeah, it’s called being a mother."'
The story of a mother, her son, a locked room and the outside world. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Filmed as a major motion picture, directed by Lenny Abrahamson.
To be born, or at any rate bred, in a hand-bag, whether it had handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life that reminds one of the worst excesses of the French Revolution… I would strongly advise you, Mr. Worthing, to try and acquire some relations as soon as possible, and to make a definite effort to produce at any rate one parent, of either sex, before the season is quite over.
The four great comedies of Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan
, A Woman of No Importance
, An Ideal Husband
and The Importance of Being Earnest
, were all written at the height of the controversial Irish author's powers in his last, doomed decade, the 1890s. They remain among the most-loved, and most-quoted, of all drama in the English language.
Grandmama in Roald Dahl's The Witches
‘It doesn't matter who you are or what you look like, so long as somebody loves you.’
The children's classic where child-hating witches lurk around every corner.
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Moominmamma in Tove Jansson’s The Moomins
‘You must go on a long journey before you can really find out how wonderful home is.’
A showstopping luxury gift book to cherish for years to come, The Moomins: The World of Moominvalley is the ultimate guide for any Moomin fan, old and new. Step into the magical world of Moominvalley with this beautiful one of a kind book; a fun, fascinating, behind the scenes look at the wonderful world of the Moomins and their creator, Tove Jansson.
Out on 19th October.
Marmee in Louisa May Alcott's 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
Recognized as one of the best-loved classic children's stories of all time, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott tells the story of the courageous and ingenious March sisters; Jo, the independent tomboy; Beth, who is delicate and loving; pretty and kind Meg; and beautiful, precocious Amy, the baby of the family. Their devoted mother Marmee, recently impoverished, must care for them alone whilst their father is away serving as a chaplain in the Civil War.
Catelyn Stark in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series
‘One day, she promised herself as she lay abed, one day she would allow herself to be less than strong. But not today. It could not be today.’
George R. R. Martin
Starting with A Game of Thrones, this epic fantasy series features a number of powerful women, and passionate mothers
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Dolly Oblonsky in Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina
‘And they all fall upon Anna. What for? Am I any better? I at least have a husband I love. Not as I'd have wanted to love, but I do love him, and Anna did not love hers. How is she to blame, then? She wants to live.’
Trapped in a stifling marriage, Anna Karenina is swept off her feet by dashing Count Vronsky. Rejected by society, the two lovers flee to Italy, where Anna finds herself isolated from all except the man she loves, and who loves her. But can they live by love alone? In this novel of astonishing scope and grandeur, Leo Tolstoy, the great master of Russian literature, charts the course of the human heart.
Mrs Waterbury in E. Nesbit’s The Railway Children
'It's an odd thing—the softer and more easily hurt a woman is the better she can screw herself up to do what has to be done. I've seen some brave women—your Mother's one.'
A tale of blissful independence and adventure, Edith Nesbit’s beloved children’s classic is a timeless story of joy, hope and the importance of family.
Molly Weasley in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series
‘You - will - never - touch - our - children - again!'
Watch our Book Break episode all about mothers.
Have we missed any of your favourites? Let us know in the comments below.