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Ellen Key

  • ... the mother is the precious possession of the nation, so precious that society advances its highest well being when it protects the functions of the mother.

  • All philanthropy ... is only a savory fumigation burning at the mouth of a sewer.

  • At every step the child should be allowed to meet the real experiences of life; the thorns should never be plucked from his roses.

  • Corporal punishment is as humiliating for him who gives it as for him who receives it; it is ineffective besides. Neither shame nor physical pain have any other effect than a hardening one ...

  • For success in training children the first condition is to become as a child oneself ... to be as entirely and simply taken up with the child as the child himself is absorbed by his life.

  • The emancipation of women is practically the greatest egoistic movement of the nineteeth century, and the most intense affirmation of the right of the self that history has yet seen.

  • ... love has been in perpetual strife with monogamy ...

  • Love is moral even without legal marriage, but marriage is immoral without love.

    • Ellen Key,
    • title essay, The Morality of Women ()
  • ... not observation of a duty but liberty itself is the pledge that assures fidelity.

    • Ellen Key,
    • title essay, The Morality of Women ()
  • ... the genius for happiness is still so rare, is indeed on the whole the rarest genius. To possess it means to approach life with the humility of a beggar, but to treat it with the proud generosity of a prince; to bring to its totality the deep understanding of a great poet and to each of its moments the abandonment and ingenuousness of a child ...

    • Ellen Key,
    • title essay, The Morality of Women ()
  • Conventionality is the tacit agreement to set appearances before reality, form before content ...

    • Ellen Key,
    • "The Conventional Woman," The Morality of Women ()
  • The destruction of the personality is the great evil of the time.

    • Ellen Key,
    • "The Conventional Woman," The Morality of Women ()
  • The very forces that liberty has set free work against the dangerous consequences of liberty.

  • Formerly, a nation that broke the peace, did not trouble to try and prove to the world that it was done solely from higher motives. ... Now war has a bad conscience. Now every nation assures us that it is bleeding for a human cause, the fate of which hangs in the balance of its victory ... No nation dares to admit the guilt of blood before the world.

  • Everything, everything in war is barbaric. ... But the worst barbarity of war is that it forces men collectively to commit acts against which individually they would revolt with their whole being.

  • The belief that we some day shall be able to prevent war is to me one with the belief in the possibility of making humanity really human.

  • ... the higher the development of women, the more they suffer from the 'patriotic' mandate to bear many children to replace the nation's losses. For they know that, from the point of view of their personal development as well as that of the race, fewer but better children are to be preferred.

  • Love requires peace, love will dream; it cannot live upon the remnants of our time and our personality.

    • Ellen Key,
    • in Marie Stopes, Married Love ()
  • ... the love of humanity has been practised with more consistency by many so-called heathens than by most confessors of the Christian faith.

Ellen Key, Swedish writer

(1849 - 1926)

Real name: Karolina Sofia Key.