Who were the literary heroes and heroines that stirred your childhood imagination? These are a few of my favourites and with these excerpts and illustrations I would like to invite you to walk down memory lane with me and perhaps find out that your early literary meanderings tally with mine.
- Little Women, Louisa May Alcott, (1868).
Jo the dreamer, the tomboy, the opinionated, the bookworm, the writer, the candid. Here is one of her best known quotes. It resonates with all those (young in years or at heart) who dream of doing something wild and special with their precious lives.
“I want to do something splendid before I go into my castle, something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all some day”.
Little Women was published in 1868 and has never been out of print since then. And to think that Alcott had written in her journal that she doubted whether the “queer plays and experiences [she shared with her sisters] may prove interesting”.
2. A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Jules Verne, (1864)
Verne’s science fiction novel is a truly exciting adventure that catapults you down into the pits of the earth. Professor Otto Lidenbrock offers a wonderfully positive view on mistakes, one which I find truly encouraging and uplifting.
“Science, my boy, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth”.
3. Animal Farm: A Fairy Story, George Orwell, (1945)
In this excerpt we do not meet one of the admirable characters in the story, but we definitely grasp what a sad situation the heroes had to fight against.
“It had become usual to give Napoleon the Credit for every successful achievement and every stroke of good fortune. You would often hear one hen remark to another, “Under the guidance of our leader, Comrade Napoleon, I have laid five eggs in six days”, or two cows, enjoying a drink at the pool, would exclaim, “thanks to the leadership of Comrade Napoleon, how excellent this water tastes!”
4. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier, (1938)
Rebecca, a psychological thriller, is about the deceased wife of Maxim de Winter (the titular character) and her unresolved death. The story is narrated by de Winter’s young second wife. Here we glimpse into the budding love story between de Winter and the young narrator, and it tastes so young and fresh.
“If only there could be an invention,’ I said impulsively, ‘that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again.”
5. The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank, (1947)
Her diary is possibly the number one book that I would recommend to any young person out there. Her life and the times she lived in need to be remembered, and Anne inspires me (and many others) with her positivity in the face of adversity.
“I’ve found that there is always some beauty left, in nature, sunshine, freedom, in yourself; these can all help you”.