Quotes about fathers and fatherhood from the OUTLANDER books

Jamie and Bree

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there! In honor of the day, here's a selection of my favorite quotes about fathers and fatherhood from Diana Gabaldon's books. Hope you enjoy them!


If you haven't read all of Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER books, including GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, there are Major Spoilers below! Read at your own risk.


"I hadna realized until I saw him just how alone I’d felt there--or how scairt. The soldiers would not give us any time alone together, but at least they let me greet him.” He swallowed and went on.

“I told him I was sorry--about Jenny, I meant, and the whole sorry mess. He told me to hush, though, and hugged me tight to him. He asked me was I hurt badly--he knew about the flogging--and I said I’d be all right.The soldiers said I must go then, so he squeezed my arms tight, and told me to remember to pray. He said he would stand by me, no matter what happened, and I must just keep my head up and try not to worrit myself. He kissed my cheek and the soldiers took me away. That was the last time I ever saw him."

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 22, "Reckonings". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


“I wondered a bit,” he said thoughtfully, “whether my father was the sort of father he was because of the way old Simon treated him. I didna realize it at the time, of course, but it’s no so common for a man to show his feelings for his sons.”

“You’ve thought about it a lot.” I offered him another flask of ale, and he took it with a smile that lingered on me, more warming than the feeble autumn sun.

“Aye, I did. I was wondering, ye see, what sort of father I’d be to my own bairns, and looking back a bit to see, my own father being the best example I had. Yet I knew, from the bits that he said, or that Murtagh told me, that his own father was nothing like him, so I thought as how he must have made up his mind to do it all differently, once he had the chance."

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 40, "The Fox's Lair". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


Willie knew how an earl should behave; he was making a masterful effort to subdue his tears, sniffing ferociously and swiping at his face with a sleeve.

“Allow me, my lord.” Jamie did kneel then, and wiped the little boy’s face gently with his own coarse handkerchief. Willie’s eyes looked at him over the cotton folds, red-rimmed and woeful.

“Have you really got to go, Mac?” he asked, in a very small voice.

“Aye, I have.” He looked into the dark blue eyes, so heartbreakingly like his own, and suddenly didn’t give a damn what was right or who saw. He pulled the boy roughly to him, hugging him tight against his heart, holding the boy’s face close to his shoulder, that Willie might not see the quick tears that fell into his thick, soft hair.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 16, "Willie". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


“You can...call me Da,” he said. His voice was husky; he stopped and cleared his throat. “If--if ye want to, I mean,” he added diffidently.

“Da,” she said, and felt the smile bloom easily this time, unmarred by tears.

“Da. Is that Gaelic?”

He smiled back, the corners of his mouth trembling slightly. “No. It’s only...simple.”

And suddenly it was all simple. He held out his arms to her. She stepped into them and found that she had been wrong; he was as big as she’d imagined--and his arms were as strong about her as she had ever dared to hope.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 41, "Journey's End". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


Roger had sworn an oath to take Jemmy as his own, no matter what the little boy’s true paternity might be; he was an honorable man, Roger, and he meant it. But the speech of the heart is louder than the words of any oath spoken by lips alone.

When I had gone back, pregnant, through the stones, Frank had sworn to me that he would keep me as his wife, would treat the coming child as his own--would love me as he had before. All three of those vows his lips and mind had done his best to keep, but his heart, in the end, had sworn only one. From the moment that he took Brianna in his arms, she was his daughter.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 13, "Beans and Barbecue". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


Jem was heavy in his arms, and groggy. He stirred, lifted his head, and blinked, blue eyes glassy with sleep.

“It’s okay,” Roger whispered, patting his back. “Daddy’s here.”

Jem sighed like a punctured tire and dropped his head on Roger’s shoulder with the force of a spent cannonball. He seemed to inflate again for a moment, but then put his thumb in his mouth and subsided into that peculiarly boneless state common to sleeping children. His flesh seemed to melt comfortably into Roger’s own, his trust so complete that it was not necessary even to maintain the boundaries of his body--Daddy would do that.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 29, "Perfectly Fine". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


"For a long time,” [Fergus] said at last, “when I was small, I pretended to myself that I was the bastard of some great man. All orphans do this, I think,” he added dispassionately. “It makes life easier to bear, to pretend that it will not always be as it is, that someone will come and restore you to your rightful place in the world.”

He shrugged.

“Then I grew older, and knew this was not true. No one would come to rescue me. But then--” He turned his head and gave Jamie a smile of surpassing sweetness.

“Then I grew older still, and discovered that, after all, it was true. I am the son of a great man.”

The hook touched Jamie’s hand, hard and capable.

“I wish for nothing more."

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 18, "Pulling Teeth". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


Seized by an urgency greater than any he’d ever known, he turned and ran. Ran heedless of footing, of dark, of Buck’s startled cry behind him.

Jerry heard his footsteps on the grass and whirled round, startled himself. Roger grabbed him by both hands, squeezed them hard enough to make Jerry gasp, and said fiercely, “I love you!”

That was all there was time for--and all he could possibly say.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 101, "Just One Chance". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


“Your wee lads need ye, Bobby,” he said gently. “Ye’ve got to mind them, aye? Ye’re all they’ve got left.”

Jamie felt those words strike suddenly and without warning, deep in his own wame. Felt again a bundle of cloth clutched hard against his breast, feeling the tiny pushings of the hours-old babe inside, himself shaking with terror at what he’d just done to save the boy--his son.

That’s what he’d thought. The only thought that came through the haze of fear and shock: His mother’s dead. I’m all he has.

And he saw it happen for Bobby, as it had for him. Saw the life fight its way back into his eyes, the bones of his body, melted with grief, begin to stiffen and form again. Bobby nodded, lips pressed tight together. Tears still ran down his face, but he rose from the settle, slow as an auld man but moving.

“Where are they?” he asked hoarsely. “Orrie and Rob?”

“With my daughter,” Jamie said. “At the house.” He lifted a brow at Roger Mac, who gave him an old-fashioned look but nodded.

“I’ll go up with ye, Bobby,” Roger Mac said, and to Jamie, “I’ll catch ye up. You and the lads.”

(From GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 28, "Math-Ghamhainn". Copyright© 2021 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

What about the rest of you? Are there other quotes or scenes about fathers in Diana's books that you particularly like?


Historical Drama Lover, DW said...

I can always depend on Diana's words to clutch my emotions tight,
but not tight enough to quell the flood of tears to cleanse my heart, once more.

Unknown said...

I lost both of my parents over the last 18 months. These books/shows provided a much needed dose of escape, warmth and reminders of the eternal blessing of love and family.

Unknown said...

Only a person who truly understands love can write such scenes. Outlander, to me, is a story of love--all kinds of love--from beginning to end. That's why her fans read and re-read her books over and over again and watch the television series over and over again, because that love touches them in every scene. Thank you, Diana.

Linda C said...

Each of these excerpts is beautifully written and captures such deep love and understanding of the characters. I am fairly new to reading Diana's books and only started watching Outlander last year but have very quickly come to appreciate and admire the way her words can reflect so much. Just beautiful!

Nancy Craig said...

How one person can take a conglomeration of ordinary English words and deliver such a thoughtful, meaningful and gut wrenching expression of emotions is truly magical. I often wonder if Diana ever gets caught up with her own emotions as she creates these beautiful scenes for us to savor.

Anonymous said...

The quotes are all so beautiful and shows an endearing love of parent and child. Diana is a master of conveying through words such emotion and love. But I noticed that two fathers were left out. Frank and Lord John. Although not their children's biological fathers, they loved them beyond measure. And that is seen in the brilliant way Diana has Frank write a letter to Bree (Dead-eye, as he called her) explaining his love for her and what she may eventually find out about her real father.

We know Lord John loves William with all his heart, not just because he is Jamie's but because he truly is a loving father. Lord John has become an astute father, as well, when he question's "what's Willie and Dorothea up to" with William's marriage proposal to his cousin. Very clever father indeed.

Although I was hoping we would see William become a father in Bees, I can only hope if it does become a plot line that Jamie is alive to see it as well.

Thea said...

There are no other words, Diana is an incredible writer, her words pierce right to the heart and soul in the most wonderous way, making one feel that one is part of each conversation and wrapped in each thought and feeling conveyed. Incredible!!

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