To Love What You Do and Feel That It Matters—How Could Anything Be More Fun?

Katharine Graham? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: I enjoy reading your website and refer to it frequently. I’ve been trying to ascertain the origin of the following:

To love what you do and feel that it matters, how could anything else be more fun?

This quote is all over the place credited to Katharine Graham, but I have found absolutely no source for it.

Quote Investigator: In October 1974 Ms. Magazine printed a profile of Katharine Graham by the journalist and biographer Jane Howard titled “The Power That Didn’t Corrupt”. At that time, Graham was Chairman of the Board of the Washington Post Company and also the publisher of the newspaper. She was quoted using a closely matching version of the expression above  without the word “else”:[ref] 1974 October, Ms., Volume 3, Number 4, Katharine Graham: The Power That Didn’t Corrupt by Jane Howard, Start Page 47, Quote Page 124, Column 2, Ms. Magazine Corp., New York. (Verified on paper) [/ref]

For myself, I’ve been lucky. It’s as I wrote to Bill and Betty Fulbright: ‘To love what you do and feel that it matters—how could anything be more fun?'”

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

In 1980 the quote and ascription were used as the answer to a puzzle in a syndicated newspaper feature called Cryptoquote:[ref] 1980 July 7, Boston Herald American, Cryptoquote: Saturday’s Cryptoquote, [King Features Syndicate], Page A11, Boston, Massachusetts. (GenealogyBank) [/ref]


In 2003 a South Carolina newspaper published a slightly altered version of the quote containing the word “else”:[ref] 2003 August 10, The Times and Democrat, Section: Sports, “Sports talk, community togetherness” by Cathy C. Hughes, Orangeburg, South Carolina. (NewsBank Access World News) [/ref]

Katharine Graham, former publisher of The Washington Post, summarizes my thoughts on the newspaper’s involvement in these two community endeavors: “To love what you do and feel that it matters — how could anything else be more fun?”

In conclusion, Graham wrote this statement without “else” in a message that she sent to her friends Bill and Betty Fulbright, and it appeared in 1974 in Ms Magazine.

(Thanks to Lil Blume whose inquiry was used by QI to fashion this question.)

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