If You Find a Book You Really Want To Read But It Hasn’t Been Written Yet, Then You Must Write It

Toni Morrison? Benjamin Disraeli? Mickey Spillane? C. S. Lewis? J. R. R. Tolkien? Janet Fitch? Ann Patchett? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The prominent American editor, writer, and educator Toni Morrison who authored the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Beloved” has been credited with an exhilarating remark about the creative process:

If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.

I have not been able to find a citation. Would you please help?

Quote Investigator: In 1981 Toni Morrison spoke at the annual meeting of the Ohio Arts Council, and “The Cincinnati Enquirer” reported some of her comments. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

“Writing to me is an advanced and slow form of reading. If you find a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.

“It took me a long time to do a short book; a long time to leave the world of language and the building up and shaping of the book, but once it began to float I knew I could not not do it . . .

Morrison’s original phrasing differed slightly from the popular modern version of the quotation.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading If You Find a Book You Really Want To Read But It Hasn’t Been Written Yet, Then You Must Write It

Notes:

  1. 1981 September 27, The Cincinnati Enquirer, Writing Is Third Career For Morrison by Ellen Brown (Entertainment Reporter), Quote Page F11, Column 1, Cincinnati, Ohio. (Newspapers_com)

You Are Never Too Old To Set Another Goal or To Dream a New Dream

C. S. Lewis? Les Brown? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The famous fantasy author C. S. Lewis has been credited with an encouraging statement aimed at seniors:

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.

I haven’t been able to find a citation. Is this ascription accurate?

Quote Investigator: QI has found no substantive evidence supporting the linkage to C. S. Lewis.

The first match found by QI occurred in the 1992 book “Live Your Dreams” by the motivational speaker and author Les Brown within a section titled “Never Too Old to Be Bold”. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

And please note this: You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. A gentleman nearing retirement age once approached me after I’d given a speech to his corporation. He said, “You know, that was real great motivation for the young guys, but I’ve done all my work. There is nothing else for me to do.”

I replied, “Oh yes, you have a lot to give. The fact that you are still here on this planet means that your business is NOT DONE.”

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading You Are Never Too Old To Set Another Goal or To Dream a New Dream

Notes:

  1. 1992, Live Your Dreams by Les Brown, Chapter 3: The Power To Change, Quote Page 75, William Morrow and Company, New York. (Verified with scans)

To Be Happy at Home Is the Ultimate Result of All Ambition

Samuel Johnson? C. S. Lewis? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The famous English lexicographer Samuel Johnson apparently extolled domestic bliss. Did he write or say something like the following?

The chief aim of all human endeavors is to be happy at home.

Quote Investigator: In 1746 Samuel Johnson signed a contract to create “A Dictionary of the English Language”, and in 1755 the remarkable two volume product of his prodigious efforts appeared. He worked on other projects during this busy period including a periodical called “The Rambler”. His essay dated November 10, 1750 highlighted the importance of home life: 1

To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labour tends, and of which every desire prompts the prosecution.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading To Be Happy at Home Is the Ultimate Result of All Ambition

Notes:

  1. 1785, Harrison’s British Classicks, Volume 1, Containing Dr. Johnson’s Rambler and Lord Lyttelton’s Persian Letters, Issue Number LXVIII (68), Date: Saturday, November 10, 1750, Start Page 155, Quote Page 156, Column 1, Printed for Harrison and Company, London. (Google Books Full View) link