Category Archives: Margaret Atwood

Life Is a Sexually Transmitted Terminal Disease

Margaret Atwood? Posy Simmonds? Guy Bellamy? Marilyn Duckworth? R. D. Laing? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The following quotation may be morbid, but I still consider it cleverly humorous:

Life is a sexually transmitted terminal disease.

Would you please explore its provenance?

Quote Investigator: Tracing this statement is difficult because it emerged from a family of related sayings. Here is a summary snapshot showing quotations with dates:

1656: Life is an Incurable Disease. —Abraham Cowley
1943: Some people think of life as a fatal disease. —Francis T. Cunningham
1968: Life is a hereditary disease. —Anonymous Graffito
1971: Life is a terminal disease. —Anonymous Graffito
1980: Life is a sexually transmitted disease. —Anonymous Graffito
1981: Life is just another sexually transmitted social disease. —Margaret Atwood
1982: Life is a sexually transmitted disease. — attributed to Posy Simmonds
1982: Life is a sexually transmitted disease. —Guy Bellamy
1984: Life is a sexually transmitted terminal disease. —Marilyn Duckworth
1985: Life is a sexually transmitted disease & there’s a 100% mortality rate. —R. D. Laing

The prominent New Zealand author Marilyn Duckworth combined expressions about transmission and mortality to yield the target quotation by 1984.

Below are selected citations in chronological order. Continue reading