Get your creative juices flowing with these awesome essay quotes.
When most people hear the word essay, their minds take them back to school.
Students write essays in elementary school.
By high school, essays grow to express high-level ideas and passion.
Tell us your favorite essay quote in the comment section below.
What are the benefits of reading these essay quotes?
Everyone can remember being asked to write an essay on a standardized test or high-stakes exam. For some, essays cause stress.
For others, they are an opportunity for expression.
But where do essays come from?
The idea of composing written passages to express ideas is an old concept.
The “essay” that we are familiar with traces its roots back to 1571, when a French philosopher named Montaigne began writing short, philosophical writings.
He was attempting to convince others of specific observations and beliefs.
In French, the word “assai” means “attempt,” and this is where we get the word “essay” as we have applied it to the writing that Montaigne attempted.
Essay quotes about life
1. “An essay is a thing of the imagination.” — Cynthia Ozick
2. “The point of the essay is to change things.” — Edward Tufte
3. “I wrote an essay about leaf blowers and the evil they do.” — Julie Newmar
4. “I am careful about fiction. A novel is not a tract or an essay.” — Vikram Seth
5. “I was uncomfortable writing fiction. My love was the personal essay, rather than the novel.” — Alain de Botton
6. “If you’re writing an essay, keep it in the lines and in the margins so you don’t have to do it over.” — Gary Oldman
7. “A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery.” — Mao Zedong
8. “Fiction and poetry are my first loves, but the really beautiful lyrical essay can do so much that other forms cannot.” — Chris Abani
9. “If there is information in an essay, it is by-the-by, and if there is an opinion, one need not trust it for the long run.” — Cynthia Ozick
10. “A good essay must have this permanent quality about it; it must draw its curtain round us, but it must be a curtain that shuts us in not out.” — Virginia Woolf
Essay quotes on education
11. “But the things that are great for an essay are unbearable in narrative writing.” — Tara Westover
12. “Honestly, the life of a serial character on television, I’d love to write an essay about it.” — Zawe Ashton
13. “To love is to believe, to hope, to know; Tis an essay, a taste of Heaven below!” — Edmund Waller
14. “Why, in such a case, should the performer essay any sort of considered approach at all?” — Brian Ferneyhough
15. “I knew how to write like an academic, so I knew how to write academic papers and essays and things.” — Tara Westover
16. “Trust the student to write the essay, but verify that it gets done. Gentle editing and proofreading are allowed.” — Kate Klise
17. “I could only write about issues specifically through essays. But I’ll do that only if I have something worthwhile to say.” — Vikram Seth
18. “We’d had books in my house growing up, but we had never had anything like lectures. I had never written an essay for my mother.” — Tara Westover
19. “Perhaps I abandoned criticism because I am full of contradictions, and when you write an essay, you are not supposed to contradict yourself.” — Eugene Ionesco
20. “When I was ten, I wrote an essay on what I would be when I grew up and said I would be a professional soccer player and a comedian in off season.” — Will Ferrell
Essay quotes examples
21. “The most important thing when starting out with essay writing is to find a voice with which you’re comfortable.” — Anne Fadiman
22. “The tagline at Westin hotels is that they strive to surprise and delight their guests. This is exactly what a college essay should do.” — Kate Klise
23. “In high school, I won a prize for an essay on tuberculosis. When I got through writing the essay, I was sure I had the disease.” — Constance Baker Motley
24. “I wrote my senior essay on the Santa Fe Writer’s Colony and my dissertation on sacred landscapes – the Grand Canyon, the Dakota Badlands.” — Elise Broach
25. “You give some kind of an exam – maybe it’s one of those standardized tests all kids hate, maybe it’s some kind of essay, but whatever it is, it’ll measure the results, and the kids will hate it.” — Mike Gallagher
Essay quotes to consider
26. “I would be writing an essay that was due in the next day until about 1 A.M., and then I would be up at 6 A.M. and on a train to Birmingham to record ‘The Archers’. It was pretty intense.” — Felicity Jones
27. “The great American food writer M. F. K. Fisher once wrote an essay called ‘The Anatomy of a Recipe.’ To have a good anatomy, in her view, a recipe should have a sense of logical progression.” — Bee Wilson
28. “I went on all over the States, ranting poems to enthusiastic audiences that, the week before, had been equally enthusiastic about lectures on Railway Development or the Modern Turkish Essay.” — Dylan Thomas
29. “Criticism is, for me, like essay writing, a wonderful way of relaxation; it doesn’t require a heightened and mediated voice, like prose fiction, but rather a calm, rational, even conversational voice.” — Joyce Carol Oates
30. “Our job as friends, mentors, parents, and writing coaches is not to write anyone’s college essay. That’s cheating. Plus, it sends a discouraging message to the teenager that he or she can’t be trusted with this important assignment.” — Kate Klise
Essay quotes in English
31. “I’d always try to get a C, maybe a B. Other girls would trot off a brilliant essay and go off to Oxford.” — Romola Garai
32. “Philosophy wasn’t about facts, it was about ideas. My first essay title was something like: ‘How can you know what other people are thinking?’” — Sophie Kinsella
33. “I kind of got more interested in writing after I turned in my last college essay and nobody was going to tell me what kind of academic papers to write anymore.” — Dan Millman
34. “Consider the Essay as a political pamphlet on the Revolution side, and the fact that it was the Whig gospel for a century, and you will see its working merit.” — Frederick Pollock
35. “What I’m exploring right now is the subject of my own mortality. It’s an area that I’m curious about, and I’m researching it to see if there’s a photographic essay in it for me..” — Leonard Nimoy
36. “To me, having ‘material’ for an essay means not only having something to write about but also having something interesting and original to say about whatever that might be.” — Meghan Daum
37. “It started when I got locked out of two apartments in one day and I told the story to some friends, one of whom worked in the ’Village Voice’ and asked me to turn it into an essay.” — Sloane Crosley
38. “One would think that in writing about literary men and matters there would be no difficulty in finding a title for one’s essay, or that any embarrassment which might arise would be from excess of material.” — James Payn
39. “For me, playwriting is and has always been like making a chair. Your concerns are balance, form, timing, lights, space, music. If you don’t have these essentials, you might as well be writing a theoretical essay, not a play.” — Sam Shepard
Essay quotes on the environment
40. “I’m trying to put more elements of the essay into my writing.” — Ryszard Kapuscinski
41. “Can we call the essay its own genre if it’s so promiscuously versatile?” — John D’Agata
42. “The United States has been turned into a mindless true-false test, instead of the complex essay exam, it should be.” — Charlie Kirk
43. “A genuine essay rarely has an educational, polemical, or sociopolitical use; it is the movement of a free mind at play.” — Cynthia Ozick
44. “What a writer can do, what a fiction writer or a poet or an essay writer can do is re-engage people with their own humanity.” — Barbara Kingsolver
45. “The work of art far more than an essay or a tract involves the reader, challenges him directly and brings him into the argument.” — George Steiner
More essay quotes to motivate you to write
46. “The essay is one of my favorite forms of writing, and I feel like what’s inside is really personal, more so than with shorter pieces.” — Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
47. “The way a story makes an argument is quite different from the way a persuasive essay does it. Emotional truth and the logic of metaphors dominate.” — Ken Liu
48. “It takes me forever to actually finish something like a ten-page essay. But, when I do, I usually love what they are. It’s a complicated relationship.” — Chris Abani
49. “I inherited Mom’s verbal skills, and participated in forensics and essay contests in elementary school – and won every essay contest I ever entered.” — Joel Salatin
50. “One time, I was given an essay topic: to describe a perfect horse, whom the mere sight of the rider’s whip would make obedient. I depicted this perfect horse throwing his rider at the sight of the whip.” — Marquis de Lafayette
Where does the material for an essay come from?
Writer Meghan Daum once reflected, “To me, having ‘material’ for an essay means not only having something to write about but also having something interesting and original to say about whatever that might be.”
Having material and an opinion about something is one thing.
But what makes an essay an essay?
The word essay can refer to pretty much any short piece of nonfiction writing.
It can be an editorial, critical analysis, feature study, or even an excerpt from a book.
Today, the essay manifests in graphic memoirs, blogs, and even on radio programs.
Essays give us a glimpse into the times.
Throughout history, the social circumstances of the time have significantly impacted essay writing.
We find that essay writing increases when revolutions occur.
Across the globe, thinkers, philosophers, poets, and politicians have used the essay to invoke passion, empathy, and awareness among people.
Check out this book if you need tips for writing a great essay.
Don’t forget to share this article on social media if you found it helpful!