Tony Daniels? Edmund Vance Cooke? James J. Montague? Carolyn McKane? Tom Robbins? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: There are many upbeat sayings on your website, but I would like you to explore a popular motto of the disaffected. Here are four versions:
Life is hard and then you die.
Life is rough and then you die.
Life sucks and then you die.
Life is a bitch, then you die.
Do you have any idea who coined this astringent adage of unhappiness and resignation?
Quote Investigator: An exact match for the fourth member of this family of sayings was printed in “The Washington Post” in 1982. The newspaper profiled a precocious 15-year-old and described a meeting of her high-school friends who held a wide-ranging discussion. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1
…friends discussed everything from the definition of a lerp (“worse than a wimp, a totally worthless person”) to the meaning of life, a question that was addressed cynically by the composer, 15-year-old Tony Daniels, who said, “Life’s a bitch, then you die.”
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1982 October 10, Washington Post, Brainchild by Sara Rimer, Start Page SM12, Quote Page SM17, Column 2, Washington, D. C. (ProQuest) ↩
- 2006, The Yale Book of Quotations by Fred R. Shapiro, Section Modern Proverbs, Quote Page 528, Yale University Press, New Haven. (Verified on paper) ↩
- 2012, The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs, Compiled by Charles Clay Doyle, Wolfgang Mieder, and Fred R. Shapiro, Quote Page 141, Yale University Press, New Haven. (Verified on paper) ↩