May You All Live Forever. May I Live Forever Less A Day

A. A. Milne? Winnie the Pooh? Tom Phillips? Walter Kerr? Jack Valenti? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The following poignant and memorable quotation about love and companionship appears on many websites:

If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.

Usually these words are attributed to the author A. A. Milne who created the character Winnie the Pooh and his companions Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, Christopher Robin and others. Yet, I have never seen a citation, and I suspect that the Milne never wrote it. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: QI has been unable to find this quotation in the writings of A. A. Milne. The earliest conceptual match located by QI appeared in “The Rotarian” magazine in 1917. An advertisement from Tom Phillips presented a four-line verse containing the central idea of the quotation. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Greetings—
May you all live forever
May I live forever less a day
For I would not wish to live
When all my friends had passed away

TOM PHILLIPS
See you on Peachtree St., June 17th

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading May You All Live Forever. May I Live Forever Less A Day

Notes:

  1. 1917 January, The Rotarian, Volume 10, Number 1, (Advertisement placed by Tom Phillips), Quote Page 94, Column 1, Rotary International, Chicago, Illinois. (Google Books Full View) link

A Quotation Is a Handy Thing To Have About, Saving One the Trouble of Thinking for Oneself, Always a Laborious Business

A. A. Milne? Lord Peter Wimsey? Dorothy L. Sayers? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: A. A. Milne is famous for authoring children’s books that bring to life anthropomorphic characters such as Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet. Milne also composed essays aimed at adults, and he once criticized thinkers who recited quotations instead of engaging in independent analysis. Would you please help me to find his statement about “thinking for oneself”?

Quote Investigator: A. A. Milne published a collection in 1920 containing the essay “The Record Lie” in which he examined the following Latin adage:

Si vis pacem, para bellum.
If you want peace, prepare for war.

His negative experiences during World War I pushed him toward a pacifist perspective, and he condemned the adage because he believed that it encouraged warmongers. The title of the essay reflected his contention that the saying was a “record lie of the ages, the lie which has caused more suffering than anything the Devil could have invented for himself”. Expanding on this viewpoint he expressed distrust of quotations in general. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

For a quotation is a handy thing to have about, saving one the trouble of thinking for oneself, always a laborious business.

Interestingly, Milne did not adhere to pacifism during the ensuing decades. The events of World War II caused him to re-evaluate his position, and he joined the British Home Guard.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading A Quotation Is a Handy Thing To Have About, Saving One the Trouble of Thinking for Oneself, Always a Laborious Business

Notes:

  1. 1920, If I May by A. A. Milne, Essay: The Record Lie, Start Page 89, Quote Page 90, Methuen & Company, London. (Internet archive archive.org) link

Sometimes I Sits and Thinks, and Sometimes I Just Sits

A. A. Milne? Satchel Paige? William Gunning King? Lucy Maud Montgomery? Alice G. Young? Woodrow Wilson? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: I enjoy relaxing and daydreaming, so I’ve always been attracted to the following saying:

Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.

These words have been credited to the creator of Winnie the Pooh, A. A. Milne, and to the prominent baseball player, Satchel Paige. Yet, I am skeptical because I haven’t been able to find any solid citations. Would you please help?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in February 1905 within multiple newspapers such as “The Pittsburg Press” of Pennsylvania 1 and the “The Buffalo Sunday News” of New York. 2 These papers acknowledged “The Boston Record” of Massachusetts. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI:

A bond salesman just back from Maine says he asked an old fisherman in a snow-bound hamlet what he did with himself evenings.

The reply was: “Oh, sometimes I sit and think, and then again I just sit.”

—Boston Record

Thus, the first version employed the phrase “I sit” instead of “I sits”. The originator was described as an anonymous old fisherman, and the key propagator was an anonymous bond salesman.

Thanks to Barry Popik for his pioneering research on this topic. He found a March 1905 citation.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Sometimes I Sits and Thinks, and Sometimes I Just Sits

Notes:

  1. 1905 February 18, The Pittsburg Press, How He Spent His Time, Quote Page 2, Column 5, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Newspapers_com)
  2. 1905 February 19, The Buffalo Sunday News, The Simple Life, Quote Page 15, Column 5, Buffalo, New York. (Newspapers_com)

Lord Northcliffe Killed the Penny Dreadful by the Simple Process of Producing a Ha’Penny Dreadfuller

A. A. Milne? Apocryphal?

northcliffe09Dear Quote Investigator: “Penny Dreadful” was the name given to a class of literature which emerged in the nineteenth century and was designed to appeal to young men and boys. I am trying to trace a comical saying about the eclipse of these serials. A publisher created a new lower-priced collection of booklets and periodicals that some believed was more lurid and sensational. The following quip described the situation:

He killed the penny dreadful by the simple process of producing the ha’penny dreadfuller.

Can you determine the identity of the publisher and the person who crafted this remark?

Quote Investigator: In 1948 the famous children’s author A.A. Milne wrote a review of a book titled “Boys Will Be Boys” in “The Sunday Times” of London. The book surveyed and discussed the “Penny Dreadful” literature, and Milne noted some of the complaints aimed at these works: 1

“Penny dreadfuls” have been the target of a good deal of wild shooting: from the leftish prig who condemned their snobbishness and patriotism to the righteous prig who condemned their idealisation of crime. Somewhere in between came the literary prig, who complained of their illiteracy.

In the review Milne also made the humorous observation which is under investigation. He named Lord Northcliffe as the inexpensive sensationalist publisher. Boldface has been added to excerpts:

It was Lord Northcliffe who killed the penny dreadful: by the simple process of producing a ha’penny dreadfuller. Rioting in its success, the editor of “The Marvel” quoted a letter “from a personal friend who has a son at Harrow. He informs me that at all the public schools there is a great rush for ‘The Halfpenny Marvel.'” I am afraid that I missed it; the rush must have been confined to Harrow. At my private school I read “The Boy’s Own Paper.”

Lord Northcliffe who was born Alfred Harmsworth was the founder of the popular British newspaper “The Daily Mail”. He acquired several important papers and became one of the most powerful publishing magnates in the English-speaking world.

Below is one additional selected citation together with the conclusion.

Continue reading Lord Northcliffe Killed the Penny Dreadful by the Simple Process of Producing a Ha’Penny Dreadfuller

Notes:

  1. 1948 October 10, The Sunday Times (UK), Blood and Thunder by A. A. Milne, (Review of “Boys Will Be Boys” by E. S. Turner), Quote Page 2, Column 8, London, England. (Sunday Times Digital Archive; Gale NewsVault)

People Say Nothing Is Impossible, But I Do Nothing Every Day

A. A. Milne? Alfred E. Neuman? Winnie the Pooh? The Foolish Almanak? Theodor Rosyfelt? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: I saw the following entertaining quotation on several websites where it was ascribed to the Winnie-the-Pooh character of the author A. A. Milne:

People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.

I searched for this quote in The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh and was unable to find it. Perhaps it was used in one of the movies. Could you explore this funny statement?

Quote Investigator: The earliest evidence of this humorous remark located by QI appeared in 1906 in “The Foolish Almanak For Anuthur Year” by Theodor Rosyfelt. The book was filled with deliberate misspellings, and the author’s name may have been creatively altered. No attribution was given within the text for its prolix version of the jest: 1

It is said that nothing is impossible; but there are lots of people doing nothing every day.

The first collection of Winnie-the-Pooh stories was published in 1926, so the joke was already in circulation before A. A. Milne’s children’s classic was released. In addition, QI has found no substantive evidence that Milne wrote or said this jest.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading People Say Nothing Is Impossible, But I Do Nothing Every Day

Notes:

  1. 1906, “The Foolish Almanak For Anuthur Year” by Theodor Rosyfelt, Section: March, Unnumbered Page, [First page for the month of March], John W. Luce and Company, Boston, Massachusetts. (Internet Archive) link  link