Beyond Boundaries

Tattoos Tell Stories: Children’s Literature Tattoos as a Form of Life Narrative




life narrative, constructing identity, children's literature, tattoos


Tattoos and children’s literature seem to have little in common, but they come together in the form of children’s literature tattoos, which I argue in this article to be a new form of life narrative. A lot of literary tattoos are inspired by children’s literature such as the Harry Potter-series and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Despite being inspired by a literary work, the tattoos function as personal memoirs of childhood as well as a reflection of the tattooees’ hopes for the future and who they want to become. I empirically study these children’s literature tattoos as life narratives by combining three data sets: blogs with personal stories related to literary tattoos, an online questionnaire about the meaning of children’s literature tattoos for tattooees themselves, and semi-structured interviews. Based on my research, I argue that children’s literature tattoos tell personal stories about the tattooees and their lives and can thus be considered a form of life narrative. Children’s literature tattoos narrate what someone has been through, what someone likes, but most of all the things that shape the person and that they hope will continue to shape them in the future.

Author Biography

Marjolein Breems, Tilburg University

During her bachelor in Cultural Studies at Tilburg University Marjolein Breems became interested in literary tattoos and wrote a thesis on the recontextualisation of literature when quotes get tattooed on someone’s skin rather than written in a book. The topic kept her attention during her Master’s program in Children’s and Young Adult Literature at Tilburg University and for this program she again wrote a thesis on literary tattoos, this time on the way in which children’s literature can inspire tattoos based on it.





Beyond Boundaries