Though she be but little, she is fierce. -- Shakespeare Image source: Cat Coquillette, via

My Favorite Sassy Ladies of Literature

I’ve often been called sassy and I find it to be the highest compliment. I think most people do. But of course sometimes people don’t mean it that way or sometimes people really get their feelings hurt when you call them sassy.

So let’s clear up some confusion on what sassy is and is not, when you should be sassy (always), and when people are attributing it incorrectly (often) using some of my favorite sassy ladies: those magical creatures I consider to be dear friends—fictional women from literature.

Anne, Anne of Green Gables

Let’s start with one of the best and one of my first kindred spirits: Anne Shirley. Anne (Anne with an E) is the best kind of sassy because she’s cheeky and talkative and speaks her mind. But she’s also self-aware and kind and generous and smart. To be sassy is not to be rude, though people like to use it as an excuse to be all the time. Those true sassy ladies know better. A few of my favorite Anne quotes:

  • “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.”
  • “It is ever so much easier to be good if your clothes are fashionable.”

Emma, Emma

Oh my god this one. Emma, dear, you might just be my favorite sassy lady for being SO delightful and for inspiring Cher Horowitz (from Clueless and if you didn’t know that stop reading my blog right now!). Well, Emma just thinks she’s so on top of her shit, but we know she’s pretty much a mess. But she’s such a charming mess! She’s just really quite clever and really quite funny and I love her dearly. A woman does not have to be perfect to be endearing. And I like how she says, “I always deserve the best treatment because I never put up with any other.”


Hermione, Harry Potter series

Okay, well here we go. We all wanted to be Hermione, right? What a truly brilliant character. Hermione is smarter than all of you. And she doesn’t care if you like it. Through all of the nonsense (and there is A LOT), she’d rather be herself–loud and bossy and a little snarky and always right–than be the most popular. But she’s so remarkably loyal and brave the whole time. Hermione is a true hero. And she proves that you can sass the hell out of a boy you like and he’ll still love you:

  • “Just because you’ve got the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn’t mean we all have,” she says to Ron and still wins his heart.

Minerva McGonagall, Harry Potter series

But we can’t cover Harry Potter without talking about Professor McGonagall. She’s sassy in a lot of ways (step off, Delores), but my favorite way is how stern she is. I think, guys, that you have to follow the rules (most of them). When you disregard the standards of behavior that have been set, you’re saying you’re better than everyone else who is respecting them. Stop doing that and start being respectful. If you notice other people breaking them, call it out. You aren’t better than anyone. Stop it.

Anyways… Professor McGonagall definitely believes this and it definitely makes her students better and I love it.

  • Ron Weasley : “That was bloody brilliant!”
  • McGonagall: “Well, thank you for that assessment, Mr Weasley. Perhaps it would be more useful if I were to transfigure Mr. Potter or yourself into a pocket watch? That way, one of you might be on time.”

Lucy Honeychurch, A Room with a View

Now, I just read this and it was a delight. Our protagonist, Lucy Honeychurch, is not putting up with any of your bullshit. Stop trying to meddle in her life or crush her spirit, she is just not having it. My favorite thing about Lucy is how she teaches me sick burns to use when people are bothersome. Like when she sasses Charlotte (it’s okay, Charlotte, I liked you by the end) for being so tiresome and nosy by saying, “How you do do everything.” Okay, maybe you just have to read this one to get it. Read it!

Elizabeth Bennett, Pride and Prejudice

First of all, is it horrible that I can’t think about Elizabeth Bennett without picturing Kiera Knightly? It is? Okay, oops. But anyways, Elizabeth is probably the quintessential sassy role model for so many people. She is not about to let you put her down or look down on her or her family and no thank you, she does not like you. At the heart of all of her sassiness is an incredible thoughtfulness, about herself and those around her. Though it leads her astray sometimes (HI MR. DARCY, A THOUSAND TIMES YES), it makes her strong and independent and brave. I love you, Miss Bennett.


Who are you favorite sassy ladies from literature? There are so many because they make the best heroines.

I think being sassy is the best thing a lady can be. How boring to be anything else.

*Feature image source: Cat Coquillette. Originally seen on


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