If You Have Two Friends in Your Lifetime, You’re Lucky. If You Have One Good Friend, You’re More than Lucky

S. E. Hinton? David Viscott? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: An article by Ed Yong about crabs on the website of “The Atlantic” contained an arresting quotation about the rarity of strong friendship. The words were ascribed to the prominent young-adult novelist S. E. Hinton (Susan Eloise Hinton). Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: S. E. Hinton is best known for her 1967 young-adult novel “The Outsiders”. In 1971 her second novel with the same Oklahoma setting was titled “That Was Then, This Is Now”. The narrator, a young man named Bryon Douglas, made the following observation: 1

If you have two friends in your lifetime, you’re lucky. If you have one good friend, you’re more than lucky.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.




In 1974 the celebrity psychiatrist and radio talk-show host David Viscott published “How to Live with Another Person”. The chapter on “Friends” contained the following insight. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 2

Friendships are more important than anything else we know. To have no friends at all is the worst state of man. To have only one good friend is enough. A friend makes all the difference in the world.

In 2017 an article on “The Atlantic” website by science journalist Ed Yong described the curious symbiotic relationship between boxer crabs and sea anemones. His introductory sentences were vivid: 3

The American novelist S. E. Hinton once said, “If you have two friends in your lifetime, you’re lucky. If you have one good friend, you’re more than lucky.” By that logic, boxer crabs are the luckiest creatures alive because they can turn one good friend into two by tearing it in half.

These tiny, inch-long crabs carry sea anemones, holding them in place with special hooks on the inner edges of their claws.

After Yong’s article was posted on “The Atlantic”, the popular twitter user pourmecoffee tweeted an image showing the introduction and remarked: 4

Wow, that lede was quite the emotional roller-coaster. Really went south fast

In conclusion, S. E. Hinton should be credited with the remark about friendship in her 1971 novel. David Viscott shared a thought about “one good friend” in 1974.

Image Notes: Two people jumping from MMckein at Pixabay.

(Great thanks to Kam-Yung Soh whose inquiry led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration.)

Notes:

  1. 1971 Copyright, That Was Then, This Is Now by S. E. Hinton, Quote Page 49, Viking: A Division of Penguin Putnam, New York. (Reprint with 1988 copyright cover art)(Verified with hardcopy)
  2. 1974 Copyright, How to Live with Another Person by David Viscott, M.D., Chapter Nine: Friends, Quote Page 131, Pocket Books: A Division of Simon & Schuster, New York. (Verified with scans of 1976 Pocket Books edition)
  3. 2017 February 7, The Atlantic, This Crab Clones Its Allies by Ripping Them in Half by Ed Yong (Staff writer), Atlantic Media, Inc. (Accessed on theatlantic.com February 14 2017) link
  4. Tweet, From: pourmecoffee ‏@pourmecoffee, Time: 10:44 PM, Date: February 7, 2017, Text: Wow, that lede was quite the emotional roller-coaster. Really went south fast. (Accessed on twitter.com on February 14, 2017) link