Two of the best things about summer are as follows:
Now, while the latter may not actually be applicable for everywhere (though you should take this season as an opportunity to show off anything you choose to regardless), I am certain that everyone reading this is down to appreciate the combining of both #1 and #2 into a single concept: literary tattoos. Namely, literary tattoos from works written by female authors like Sylvia Plath, Joyce Carol Oates, J.K. Rowling and Jane Austen, among many others. We scoured Pinterest and all across the Internet for the world’s most wondrous literary tattoos based on female writers’ work, and goodness, there are so many great ones.
I myself have tattoos from stories by two out of the three preceding names; you’ll just have to scroll down to find out which ones! And of course to check out some of the absurdly incredible body art that people have had done in honor of these writers’ profound, wise and beautiful writings, because that’s what you’re here for, o’course.
1. Maya Angelou, And Still I Rise
Let’s start off with a tattoo from a quote somebody whom we all should honor: Maya Angelou. The prolific poet, author and activist is one of the most important literary and cultural figures of the twentieth century; she’s endlessly quotable in her wisdom. And I don’t know about you guys, but this particular one gives me goosebumps.
2. Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
While some might argue that this is inspired more by the 1931 film, it’s important to remember that that movie was first inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
3. Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
The eyeball tattoo is unreal, and the fact that it’s inspired by such an incredible novel only makes it that much better.
4. Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
I had this done about four or five years ago, as I detailed in this post on the book. I layered it with Saul Williams‘ writing, as I think they evoke similar emotions on many themes despite having wildly different voices.
5. Emily Dickinson, “A word is dead.”
I imagine the wearer of this is some mysterious writer who’s currently working in the woods on a collection of poems that are equally wonderful to those by Dickinson. Just my imagination.
6. Flannery O’Connor, The Complete Stories
Flannery O’Connor’s particular talent for writing the grotesque always amazed me. This tattoo seems like the perfect tribute to both the author and her work.
7. Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird
There were tons of quote tattoos from To Kill A Mockingbird, but I prefer this imagery that represents it.
8. Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice
“I love you, most ardently” is a tattoo I’ve seen on a lot of people, and goodness, it always looks wonderful. I love the vertical placement on this woman’s side, in particular.
9. Sylvia Plath, “Lady Lazarus”
One of her most famous set of lines, “Out of the ash/I rise with my red hair/And I eat men like air” is final stanza of Sylvia Plath’s prolific poem, “Lady Lazarus.” And check out the befitting red hair atop the wearer’s head!
10. Alice Walker, “On Stripping Bark From Myself”
Getting a poem’s line tattooed on you: rad. Getting the entire poem: effing amazing.
11. Lena Dunham, Girls
Okay, this one isn’t from a novel or a poem, but remember when a Twitter user asked Lena to handwrite the quote about HPV, “All adventurous women do,” in her own handwriting? It was pretty rad! Here was the result.
12. Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
This is another quote that will give anybody goosebumps: “If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.”
13. Emily Dickinson, “‘Hope’ Is The Thing With Feathers”
“Hope is the thing with feathers – /That perches on the soul.”
Click to the next page to see more beautiful, inspiring literary tattoos including a (NSFW) one inspired by Virginia Woolf, another that utilizes art and quotes from Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and my own Joyce Carol Oates tattoo.
14. Toni Morrison, Beloved
If you haven’t read this book, do so immediately. This tattoo incorporates both a quote from the novel as well as its imagery.
15. Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
This quote from Dickon in The Secret Garden makes for a lovely tattoo: “A body ‘as to move gentle an’ speak low when wild things is about.”
16. Jane Austen, Mansfield Park
Gosh, I love that font.
17. Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
Whether you agree with Rand’s philosophical arguments or not, it is impossible to argue against her being a heavily influential figure in the literary world. While looking for literary tattoos, I came across dozens that were inspired by Atlas Shrugged.
18. Flannery O’Connor, Everything That Rises Must Converge
The cover art from O’Connor’s book was just begging to be put onto a person’s body.
19. Maya Angelou quote
“Now that I know better, I do better” is one of Maya Angelou’s most famous quotes, and with good reason–they are the perfect words to live by.
20. Jane Austen, Persuasion
I know there are already two Jane Austen tattoos on here, but I think this one is so snazzy in its balance, font and placement.
21. Virginia Woolf, The Waves
Wow, the placement and the work here is stunning.
22. Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
“Nolite te bastardes carborundorum,” meaning “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.” BAM.
23. Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle In Time
Once again, coordinating wrist tattoos rule.
24. J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter
What, did you think I forgot her?
25. Joyce Carole Oates, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”
I got this last year, though I had wanted to have it done for at least two years. I try not to play favorites with my tattoos, lest I grow tired of one of them or something dreadful like that, but this one is very dear to my heart.
The story of…TKTKTK