The 15 Most Memorable Mothers in Literature


Last year, we celebrated Mother’s Day with a post on The Top 15 Quotes About Mothers

This year, I decided to list the 15 most memorable mothers from the books I’ve read. I hope some of them inspire you to create memorable mothers in the books you write. Please add your choices in the comments section below.

The Most Remarkable Mothers

  • Ma from Room by Emma Donoghue. Jack’s mother has been abducted, and held captive for seven years. Five-year-old Jack is her abductor’s child. Jack lives with Ma in Room, the only world he knows. Ma’s love for Jack is heart-breakingly beautiful as she raises him in the tiny space, making him strong enough to save them both.
  • Ruth Jamison from Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. Ruth leaves her abusive husband, Frank, and sets up home with Idgie, where the two raise Buddy Junior, run a cafe, fight racial prejudice, and ultimately protect Buddy from his father.
  • Sylvie Todd from Life after Life by Kate Atkinson. Sylvie is a compelling, charismatic woman who will not let her daughter, Ursula die. She keeps on going back until she gets it right.
  • Mrs Lancaster from The Fault in our Stars by John Green. Hazel’s mother adores her cancer-stricken daughter. She looks after her, trying to shied her as much as she can. She is always there.

The Most Tragic Mothers

  • Sophie Zawistowska from Sophie’s Choice by William Styron. Sophie, a Polish survivor of the Nazi death camps, is forced to decide which one of her children will live. She chooses her son, but she never finds out what happens to him. Her daughter, Eva is gassed at Auschwitz. Sophie survives to end up killing herself after the war.
  • Lila Wingo from The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy. Lila and her children, Savannah and Tom,are raped by three escaped prisoners. The children’s elder brother comes home, and they manage to kill the men. Lila forces the children to bury the bodies and she makes them promise never to speak of what happened.

The Most Annoying Mother

  • Mrs Bennet from Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. Mrs Bennet is a terrible social climber. She is silly, irrational, frivolous, and ill-mannered. Her sole ambition is to marry her daughters to wealthy men.

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The Most Schizoid Mother

  • Mrs Wormwood from Matilda by Roald Dahl. Mrs Wormwood has no interest in her daughter. She ignores her, belittles her and is quite happy to let Matilda’s schoolteacher adopt her child.

The Most Narcissistic Mother

  • Ingrid Magnussen from White Oleander by Janet Fitch. Ingrid is a headstrong poet who is never jilted. When Barry Kolker does just that, Ingrid poisons him with White Oleander and is imprisoned, leaving her daughter, Astrid to fend for herself in a series of foster homes.

The Most Borderline Mothers

  • Charlotte Haze from Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Charlotte manipulates Humbert into marriage, and leaves her daughter vulnerable to the paedophile.
  • Queen Gertrude from Hamlet by William Shakespeare. Hamlet’s mother marries her husband’s brother Claudius after he murders her husband. She shows no feelings of guilt and does not truly consider the impact of her actions.  

The Most Anti-Social Mothers

  • Eleanor Melrose from The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn. Eleanor is almost in a class of her own. The American heiress drinks, takes too many pills, lets her husband lose her fortune, and rape her son. 
  • Petal from The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx. Quoyle’s abusive, unfaithful wife, Petal runs off with her lover, but not before selling her daughters to a black market adoption agency.

The Most Histrionic Mother

  • Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald. On being told she has given birth to a daughter, Daisy says: ”I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” 

The Most Psychotic Mother

  • Margaret White from Carrie by Stephen King. Margaret is an unstable, religious fanatic who abuses her daughter. When she tries to kill her daughter, Carrie kills her.

 by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on  Pinterest,  Facebook,  Google+,  Tumblr  and  Twitter.  

If you enjoyed this post, read:

  1. The Top 15 Quotes About Mothers
  2. 15 Fascinating Fathers From Fiction
  3. 12 Literary Quotes About Fathers
  4. The Daily Word Counts of 39 Famous Authors

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write – Write to communicate

This article has 0 comments

  1. James Luse

    What about Amanda from Tennessee williams’ THE GLASS MENAGERIE?

  2. Ron

    “The Prince of Tides” rather Price of…..

  3. PhyAnne

    Your article on Mother characters was great. After taking a class in Mother’s and Daughters at Mt. St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles, I look at Mother’s in a whole new light. I can really pick their characters and define who they really are!

  4. florence d. vedar

    i read a lot and i so want to write…i will be grateful for tips on how to go about it.

  5. Phyllis

    Florence, try using Dragon Naturally Speaking, then just sit and tell your stories out loud. DNS does all the typing for you too. I use it a lot when my hands and wrists need a break! I love it, and easily wrote 5,000 words daily in record time. I edit books Professionally, but to help Indie authors afford editing. I only charge $7.00 for 1000 words. I can do various types of edits, from light through very heavy editing. Best advice is to just get your story down intake rough draft. I also do proofreading.

  6. Anne O'Connor

    The most inspirational mother: Mama from, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry’ by Mildred D Taylor.

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