Harold Macmillan? Winston Churchill? Adam Raphael? Peter Kellner? Kenneth Fleet? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: Public figures around the world have faced major difficulties in 2020. Several decades ago, a powerful British politician experienced a series of setbacks during a period of economic and social upheaval. A journalist asked him to identify the greatest challenge to his administration, and he replied:
Events, my dear boy, events.
Politicians of today may sympathize with this sentiment. Would you please help me to determine the name of the politician and the correct quotation?
Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in “The Observer” newspaper of London in March 1984. Journalist Adam Raphael attributed the remark to Harold Macmillan who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom between 1957 and 1963. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1
Harold Macmillan was once asked what the most troubling problem of his Prime Ministership was. ‘Events, my dear boy, events,’ was his reply.
The phrase “was once asked” suggests that Raphael did not know when the quotation was spoken. Macmillan died in 1986 when he was 92 years old.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1984 March 11, The Observer, Mrs T looks out of touch by Adam Raphael, Quote Page 4, Column 2, London, England. (Newspapers_com) ↩