10 Male Writers on the Perfect Woman

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This week, we listened to Slate’s Gentleman Scholar advise a Miss Bianca on how to attract a writerly boyfriend. Though his response was clever indeed, we’re not sure it was overly helpful, so we thought we’d lend a hand by going straight to the source, and finding out what writing men have to say about their ideal women. Now, bear in mind: some of these quotes come from the mouths of characters, and as such must be taken with a grain of salt. That said, we all know that everyone’s characters spring from some part of themselves, so their words bear repeating here. Straight from the horse’s mouth, then: ten male writers on what they look for in a female mate after the jump. Just be warned — the results may make you think twice about wanting to date a literary man.

“The perfect woman, you see [is] a working-woman; not an idler; not a fine lady; but one who [uses] her hands and her head and her heart for the good of others.” — Thomas Hardy

“If there were no Frenchwomen, life wouldn’t be worth living.” — Friedrich Engels, Collected Works

“She was everything I wanted. She was beautiful and charming, with a quick sense of humor, and she supported me in everything I did.” — Nicholas Sparks, Message in a Bottle

“She is a woman of honour and smartness whose wild leaves out luck, always taking risks, and there is something in her brow now, that only she can recognize in a mirror. Ideal and idealistic in that shiny dark hair! People fall in love with her. She is a woman I don’t know well enough to hold in my wing, if writers have wings, to harbour for the rest of my life.” ― Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

“You are the only woman who has a sense of gaiety, a wise tolerance — no more, you seem to urge me to betray you. I love you for that. […] I don’t know what to expect of you, but it is something in the way of a miracle. I am going to demand everything of you — even the impossible, because you encourage it. You are really strong. I even like your deceit, your treachery. It seems aristocratic to me.” — Henry Miller to Anaïs Nin, A Literate Passion: Letters of Anaïs Nin & Henry Miller, 1932-1953

“A goodlookin horse is like a goodlookin woman, he said. They’re always more trouble than what they’re worth. What a man needs is just one that will get the job done.” ― Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

“you boys can keep your virgins give me hot old women in high heels with asses that forgot to get old.” ― Charles Bukowski, Love is a Dog from Hell

“…but till all graces be in one woman, one woman shall not come in my grace. Rich she shall be, that’s certain; wise, or I’ll none; virtuous, or I’ll never cheapen her; fair, or I’ll never look on her; mild, or come not near me; noble, or not I for an angel; of good discourse, and excellent musician and her hair shall be of what colour it shall please God.” — William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

“A being breathing thoughtful breath, A traveller between life and death; The reason firm, the temperate will, Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill; A perfect Woman, nobly plann’d, To warn, to comfort, and command; And yet a Spirit still, and bright With something of angelic light.” — William Wordsworth, “A Perfect Woman”

“A perfect woman’s but a softer man.” — Alexander Pope