I Work From About Seven Until About Noon. Then I Go Fishing or Swimming, or Whatever I Want

Ernest Hemingway? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Did Ernest Hemingway drink heavily while he was writing? How many hours did he spend working each day? Can you find an interview containing quotations that illuminate his drinking and writing habits?

Quote Investigator: Shortly before Hemingway died in 1961, he participated in an interview conducted by Edward Stafford and his wife. The result appeared in the “Writer’s Digest” in 1964. Emphasis added to excerpts: 1

My wife needled him. “Is it true,” she asked, “that you take a pitcher of martinis up into the tower every morning when you go up to write?”

“Jeezus Christ!” Papa was incredulous. “Have you ever heard of anyone who drank while he worked? You’re thinking of Faulkner. He does sometimes—and I can tell right in the middle of a page when he’s had his first one. Besides,” he added, “who in hell would mix more than one martini at a time, anyway?”

Thus, Hemingway denied that alcohol was his muse. A separate QI article explored a germane saying which has often been attributed to Hemingway: “Write drunk, edit sober”. QI found no substantive support for ascribing this remark to the famous author.

Continue reading I Work From About Seven Until About Noon. Then I Go Fishing or Swimming, or Whatever I Want

Notes:

  1. 1964 December, Writer’s Digest, An Afternoon With Hemingway by Edward Stafford, Start Page 18, Quote Page 21, Writer’s Digest, Cincinnati, Ohio. (Verified with microfilm)

We Both Were Crazy About Girls

Groucho Marx? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Groucho Marx apparently once said that he pursued the affections of a woman for two years until he finally discovered that the woman was doing exactly the same thing: pursuing the affections of a woman. Would you please investigate this claim?

Quote Investigator: The 1967 collection of correspondence titled “The Groucho Letters” included a 1955 missive that the comedian sent to playwright and screenwriter Harry Kurnitz. Groucho included the following parenthetical quip: 1

Many years ago I chased a woman for almost two years, only to discover that her tastes were exactly like mine: we both were crazy about girls.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading We Both Were Crazy About Girls

Notes:

  1. 1967, The Groucho Letters: Letters From and To Groucho Marx, Chapter: Friends Abroad, Letter Date: March 28, 1955, Letter From: Groucho Marx, Letter To: Harry Kurnitz (Playwright and Screenwriter), Quote Page 249, Publisher: Michael Joseph, London. (Verified with scans)

I Don’t Trust a Bank That Would Lend Money To Such a Poor Risk

Robert Benchley? Marc Connelly? Corey Ford? Bennett Cerf? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: A financially unstable comedian once asked his long-time bank for a large loan. He was dumbfounded when his request was granted, and he immediately withdrew all his money from the institution while giving the following explanation:

How can I trust a bank that would lend money to such a poor risk?

Would you please explore this anecdote?

Quote Investigator: The earliest strong match found by QI appeared in the 1967 compilation of short personality profiles titled “70 Most Unforgettable Characters from Reader’s Digest”. Playwright Marc Connelly wrote a chapter about his eccentric friend Robert Benchley who was a popular actor and humorist. One night, Connelly visited Benchley and found him in a pensive mood. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

“That bank of mine is very strange,” he said, finally. “I went there this morning because I needed a loan. And do you know something? They gave it to me just like that.”

The next day he went to the bank and withdrew his account. “I don’t trust a bank,” he muttered, “that would lend money to such a poor risk.”

Benchley died in 1945. So, the colorful anecdote was about an event that occurred many years before Connelly shared it. The story might be true. Alternatively, Benchley may have constructed a fanciful tale to entertain his friend, or Connelly may have embroidered remarks from Benchley.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading I Don’t Trust a Bank That Would Lend Money To Such a Poor Risk

Notes:

  1. 1967, 70 Most Unforgettable Characters from Reader’s Digest, Chapter: Rare Benchley by Marc Connelly, Start Page 196, Quote Page 199 and 200, The Reader’s Digest Association, Pleasantville, New York. (Verified with scans)

Experts Ought To Be On Tap and Not On Top

Winston Churchill? Harold Laski? George William Russell? Gertrude Mathews Shelby? Felix Frankfurter? Salvador de Madariaga? Robert Cecil? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: When a government or organization faces a difficult decision, its leaders must consult with expert thinkers and scientists; however, the resultant actions should not be dictated solely by the experts. Capable leaders are generalists with high-level comprehensive viewpoints; whereas, experts typically have insightful but overly narrow perspectives. Here are three ways to express this notion:

  • Experts must be on tap, and not on top.
  • Specialists should be on tap, never on top.
  • Scientists should be on tap, but not on top.

This adage has been attributed to statesman Winston Churchill, influential economist Harold Laski, and Irish writer George William Russell. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI occurred in a Dublin, Ireland periodical called the “The Irish Homestead” in 1910. George William Russell was the editor, and he wrote a piece about legislation that included the following. Emphasis added to excerpts: 1

Our theory, which we have often put forward, is that experts ought to be on tap and not on top. We have had during our career a long and intimate knowledge of experts, most interesting men in their own speciality to which they have devoted themselves with great industry and zeal. But outside this special knowledge they are generally as foolish and ignorant as any person one could pick up in the street, with no broad knowledge of society or the general principles of legislation.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Experts Ought To Be On Tap and Not On Top

Notes:

  1. 1910 December 31, The Irish Homestead: The Organ of Irish Agricultural and Industrial Development, Volume 17, Number 53, Notes of the Week: Fair Play in Legislation, Start Page 1087, Quote Page 1087, Irish Agricultural Organisation Society, Dublin, Ireland. (HathiTrust Full View) link

Whoever Said Money Can’t Buy Happiness Didn’t Know Where To Shop

Gertrude Stein? Joanna Lee? Fred Neher? Kate Osann? George Gobel? Bo Derek? John E. Gibson? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Twisting timeworn adages produces new comical sayings. Altering a hoary remark about wealth and happiness yields a maxim for shopaholics:

Anyone who says money doesn’t buy happiness doesn’t know where to shop.

The prominent literary figure Gertrude Stein has received credit for this saying. Is this attribution accurate?

Quote Investigator: QI has been unable to find substantive evidence to support the ascription to Gertrude Stein who died in 1946. The linkage may have been established by a misreading of the text in the 1987 citation presented further below.

The earliest match known to QI occurred in an episode titled “All About Eva” from the third season of the television series “Gilligan’s Island”. The episode was written by Joanna Lee and first broadcast on December 12, 1966 according to the Gilligan’s Island Wiki on the Fandom website. 1 QI watched the episode and verified the following dialog. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 2

Professor (Russell Johnson): “Well, I’m sorry folks, but money can’t buy happiness!”

Mrs. Howell (Natalie Schafer): “Anyone who says money can’t buy happiness doesn’t know where to shop.”

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Whoever Said Money Can’t Buy Happiness Didn’t Know Where To Shop

Notes:

  1. Website: Fandom – Gilligan’s Island Wiki, Season 3, Episode 14: All About Eva, Air Date on Website: December 12, 1966, Episode Writer: Joanna Lee, Website description: Information about Gilligan’s Island. (Accessed gilligan.fandom.com on January 25, 2019) link
  2. Dailymotion video, Title: Gilligan’s Island All About Eva S03E14, Uploaded May 2018, (Quotation starts at 10 minutes 13 seconds of 25 minutes 16 seconds). Description: This video is an episode of “Gilligan’s Island” called “All About Eva”. (Accessed on dailymotion.com on January 25, 2019)

A Black Cat Crossing Your Path Signifies That the Animal Is Going Somewhere

Groucho Marx? Jack Oakie? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Encountering a black cat may bring you good luck or bad luck according to a complicated rule dictated by superstitious beliefs. The nature of the omen depends on whether the cat was traveling from left to right or the reverse. It also depends on whether the cat was moving toward you or away. I prefer the simple analysis credited to the famous comedian Groucho Marx:

A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere.

Did Groucho really say this? I have been unable to find a solid citation. Would you please help?

Quote Investigator: This question is difficult to resolve. The earliest citation found by QI occurred in January 1931 when the quip was ascribed to the popular actor Jack Oakie. Yet, in July 1931 the joke was credited to Groucho Marx. Currently, Oakie is the leading candidate for authorship although future research may switch the attribution.

“The Marion Star” of Marion, Ohio published a piece about Oakie in January 1931 that included six jokes about superstitious beliefs. Here were three of them. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Oakie, you know, doesn’t believe in signs and superstitions and has drawn up a list of good and bad signs which can’t fail. Here are a few of them:

“A black cat crossing in front of a person signifies that the animal is going somewhere.

“Throwing salt over one’s shoulder is likely to give the impression that the wearer has dandruff.

“Thirteen is unlucky at a dinner when the host has only twelve chops.

The original phrasing of the black cat joke differed a bit from the common modern version.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading A Black Cat Crossing Your Path Signifies That the Animal Is Going Somewhere

Notes:

  1. 1931 January 15, The Marion Star, Theater News and Reviews: Jack Oakie Spends Pleasant Pastime Kidding Gangsters by Hallie Houck, Quote Page 16, Column 4 and 5, Marion, Ohio. (Newspapers_com)

Nothing Can Stop a Person with the Right Mental Attitude from Achieving His or Her Goal

Thomas Jefferson? W. W. Ziege? Elbert Hubbard? Orison Swett Marden? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: Several spiritual traditions assert that thoughts and beliefs can directly alter the world. Maintaining a positive outlook is highly desirable as indicated in the following proposition:

Nothing can stop a person with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help a person with the wrong mental attitude.

These words are often attributed to U.S. statesman Thomas Jefferson, but I have been unable to find a citation. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: Researcher Anna Berkes of Monticello.org states that the quotation has not been found in any of the writings of Thomas Jefferson, and the ascription is deemed spurious. 1

The earliest strong match located by QI occurred in “Forbes” magazine in January 1948 within a section called “Thoughts on the Business of Life”. The statement was credited to W. W. Ziege who was a high-level member of AMORC (Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis). Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 2

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude. — W. W. Ziege.

No precise citation was given in “Forbes” magazine, and QI has not yet found a closely matching statement within the writings of Ziege, but he did craft a semantically similar remark in a 1945 piece published in “The Rosicrucian Digest”. Details are given further below.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Nothing Can Stop a Person with the Right Mental Attitude from Achieving His or Her Goal

Notes:

  1. Website: Thomas Jefferson: Monticello, Article title: Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude… (Spurious Quotation), Article author: Anna Berkes, Creation date on website: April 20, 2010, Revision date on website: April 25, 2018, Website description: Monticello was the home of Thomas Jefferson. It has been maintained and kept open to the public by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc. (Accessed monticello.org on January 19, 2019) link
  2. 1948 January 15, Forbes, Thoughts on the Business of Life, Quote Page 42, Column 3, Forbes Inc., New York. (Verified on microfilm)

Tired of Buttoning and Unbuttoning

Englishman? Frenchman? Lord Byron? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The quotidian activities of life induce lassitude and even despondency in some people. I have heard that an eighteenth century suicide note placed blame upon the following perpetual exercise:

I weary of all this buttoning and unbuttoning.

Is this tale genuine or apocryphal?

Quote Investigator: In 1758 “The Public Advertiser” of London printed a piece titled “On Life” by G. S. that highlighted the stupefying task of manipulating buttons. Emphasis added to excerpts: 1

Life as a repetition of the same dull, insipid routine of insignificant actions of buttoning and unbuttoning, of sleeping and waking, of eating, and hunger returning, and these ditto, ditto repeated…

The article recommended spiritual faith and thoughts of Heaven to overcome unhappiness.

In 1792 a collection of anecdotes and wit published in London titled “Scrapeana: Fugitive Miscellany” edited by John Croft included a claim about a suicide note. The name of the deceased was omitted: 2

Colonel _______ shot himself, and left a paper on the table expressing that he was grown weary of life, and tired of buttoning and unbuttoning, adding this verse:

The very best remedy after all,
Is a good resolution and a ball.

The “ball” was probably a reference to early bullets which were spherical in that time period. QI does not know whether this story was based on an actual event or simply a morbid joke.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Tired of Buttoning and Unbuttoning

Notes:

  1. 1786 October 23, The Public Advertiser, For the Public Advertiser: On Life by G. S., Quote Page 1, Column 3 and 4, London, England. (Newspapers_com)
  2. 1792, Scrapeana: Fugitive Miscellany, Editor: John Croft, Quote Page 97, Sans Souci, London. (Google Books Full View) link

Books Aren’t Written, They’re Rewritten. Including Your Own

Michael Crichton? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Michael Crichton wrote numerous popular books and screenplays including: Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain, Westworld, Congo, Sphere, and The Lost World. Yet, each work entailed strenuous effort and required multiple drafts. Apparently, he offered the following advice to aspiring authors:

Books aren’t written, they’re rewritten. Including your own.

Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1983 Michael Crichton published a non-fiction book titled “Electronic Life: How To Think About Computers”. He included a short section about debugging computer programs containing a few sentences about rewriting. Emphasis added to excerpts: 1

The whole idea of debugging puts people off, though I don’t know why. Writers often say that books aren’t written, they’re rewritten. And in fact most formal assemblies of information—proposals, applications, speeches, presentations, designs—go through several drafts or revisions.

Crichton disclaimed credit for the remark about rewriting because it was already in circulation. Also note that the text above did not contain an exact match for the target quotation.

The earliest exact match located by QI occurred in the September 1986 issue of “Writer’s Digest”. The managing editor Thomas Clark published “174 Tips From Bestselling Writers”. The article introduction suggested that inquiries were sent to a large group of writers, and the responses were gathered and edited by Clark: 2

We asked some of today’s bestselling authors for such scouting reports: for opinions on the difficult realities writers face, for the most valuable advice they received from mentors and other guides; for the suggestions they wish they’d received at the start of their careers.

Here are three items from the collection. The ellipsis occurred in the original text. Emphasis added to excerpts: 3

Treat it as a job—not a mystical calling. Then you’ll get up every morning and go “to work” instead of waiting for the muse to attend you.
—Jean Brody
A Coven of Women

Books aren’t written, they’re rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it. . . .
—Michael Crichton

One must develop his or her individual voice—that’s what we call style, the name of the writing game.
—Judith Crist

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Books Aren’t Written, They’re Rewritten. Including Your Own

Notes:

  1. 1983, Electronic Life: How To Think About Computers by Michael Crichton, Chapter 2: Practical Matters A to Z, Section: Debugging, Quote Page 50, Alfred A. Knopf, New York. (Verified with hardcopy)
  2. 1986 September, Writer’s Digest, 174 Tips From Bestselling Writers, Compiled by Thomas Clark (Managing Editor of Writer’s Digest), Start Page 24, Quote Page 24, Writer’s Digest, Cincinnati, Ohio. (Verified with hardcopy)
  3. 1986 September, Writer’s Digest, 174 Tips From Bestselling Writers, Compiled by Thomas Clark (Managing Editor of Writer’s Digest), Start Page 24, Quote Page 28, 30, and 33, Writer’s Digest, Cincinnati, Ohio. (Verified with hardcopy)

The Day the Child Realizes That All Adults Are Imperfect He Becomes an Adolescent

Alden Nowlan? John Robert Colombo? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Young children often view adults with awe. Even disobedient ones fear the deity-like powers of adults. Yet, over time the cracks in the façade of authority grow. Some author has stated:

The day the child realizes that all adults are imperfect he becomes an adolescent.

Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1971 the prominent Canadian poet Alden Nowlan published the collection “Between Tears and Laughter” containing the work “Scratchings”. The fourth stanza described a mental voyage. Emphasis added to excerpts: 1

The day the child realizes that all adults are imperfect he becomes an adolescent; the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult; the day he forgives himself he becomes wise.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading The Day the Child Realizes That All Adults Are Imperfect He Becomes an Adolescent

Notes:

  1. 1971, Between Tears and Laughter by Alden Nowlan, Poem: Scratchings, Start Page 102, Quote Page 102, Clarke Irwin, Toronto, Canada. (Verified with scans; thanks to Middleton Library, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana)