A True Work of Art Takes at Least an Hour

Charles Schulz? Lucy van Pelt? Linus van Pelt? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Recently, while watching videos presenting art tutorials online I was amazed at the quality of rapidly created drawings. Yet, I was reminded of a “Peanuts” comic strip from decades ago that claimed a genuine artwork cannot be created in less than one hour. Would you please help me to find this comic strip?

Quote Investigator: “Peanuts” cartoonist Charles Schulz published a strip about the creation of art on December 12, 1962. The strip depicted a disagreement between the sibling characters Linus and Lucy van Pelt. In the first panel, Linus complained that Lucy had torn up the picture of a horse which he had drawn. In the second panel, Lucy justified her actions by asserting that the drawing “had no artistic value”. Emphasis added to excerpt by QI: 1



The four panels are viewable on the GoComics 2 website here.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading A True Work of Art Takes at Least an Hour


  1. 1962 December 12, The Greenville News, (Four-panel “Peanuts” comic strip by Charles M. Schulz), Quote Page 23, Column 4, Greenville, South Carolina. (Newspapers_com)
  2. Website: GoComics, Comic strip title: Peanuts, Comic strip author: Charles Schulz, Date of original distribution: December 12, 1962, Website description: GoComics, from Andrews McMeel Universal, is home to many popular comics and cartoons. It has a large catalog of syndicated newspaper strips, political cartoons and webcomics. (Accessed gocomics.com on July 9, 2019)

Better to Light a Candle Than to Curse the Darkness

Eleanor Roosevelt? Confucius? Chinese Proverb? William L. Watkinson? E. Pomeroy Cutler? James Keller? Oliver Wendell Holmes? Adlai Stevenson? John F. Kennedy? Charles Schulz?

Dear Quote Investigator: I love the emphasis on constructive action in the following saying:

It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

These words have been attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, Confucius, and several other people. What do you think?

Quote Investigator: The earliest appearance located by QI occurred in a 1907 collection titled “The Supreme Conquest and Other Sermons Preached in America” by William L. Watkinson. A sermon titled “The Invincible Strategy” downplayed the value of verbal attacks on undesirable behaviors and championed the importance of performing good works. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

But denunciatory rhetoric is so much easier and cheaper than good works, and proves a popular temptation. Yet is it far better to light the candle than to curse the darkness.

In September 1907 Watkinson’s sermon “The Invincible Strategy” was reprinted in a periodical called “China’s Millions” which was published by a Protestant Christian missionary society based in China. 2

Thus, the expression was disseminated to a group of people in China. Nowadays, the words are sometimes ascribed to Confucius or labeled a Chinese proverb, but QI has not found compelling evidence to support that assignment.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order. Continue reading Better to Light a Candle Than to Curse the Darkness


  1. 1907 Copyright, The Supreme Conquest and Other Sermons Preached in America by W. L. Watkinson (William Lonsdale Watkinson), Sermon XIV: The Invincible Strategy, (Romans: xii, 21), Start Page 206, Quote Page 217 and 218, Fleming H. Revell Company, New York. (Google Books Full View) link
  2. 1907 September, China’s Millions, The Invincible Strategy by Rev. Wm. L. Watkinson, (Sermon printed by special permission of the Methodist Publishing House from the book “The Supreme Conquest” by W. L. Watkinson), Start Page 135, Quote Page 137, Column 2, Morgan and Scott, London. (Google Books Full View) link

They Asked Me What I Wanted To Be When I Grew Up. I Said ‘Happy’

John Lennon? Charles Schulz? Goldie Hawn? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Did musical superstar John Lennon really tell the following story about his childhood?

When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.

This tale appears on many websites, but I have never seen a pointer to an interview with Lennon or some other material supporting this account. What do you think?

Quote Investigator: QI has been unable to locate any substantive evidence connecting this heartfelt anecdote to John Lennon. The volunteer editors at Wikiquote relegated the passage to the “Unsourced” section of the “Discussion” page indicating that no supporting data had been discovered. 1

John Lennon died in 1980. A version of the text closely matching the words above was in circulation by November 2008 on a set of tumblrs. In the earliest matching instances found by QI the narrator was not named. Details are given further below.

Interestingly, the humorous kernel of this anecdote appeared in the very popular syndicated cartoon strip Peanuts which was written and illustrated by Charles M. Schulz. In January 1960 a strip was published showing a conversation between Charlie Brown and Linus van Pelt. 2 Charlie asks Linus whether he thinks much about the future. Linus replies that he does. Charlie asks what he wants to be when he grows up, and Linus replies “Outrageously happy!”: 3

Great thanks to correspondent Jay Lund who told QI that he recalled reading a Peanuts cartoon on this topic in the 1960s.

The core of the anecdote was also presented as an autobiographical incident by Goldie Hawn, an Oscar winning actress and successful movie producer. In 1992 Hawn was profiled in Vanity Fair magazine, and she mentioned her response to a question about future goals: 4

People used to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I’d say ‘Happy!’ That was all I wanted to be.

In 2005 Hawn released the memoir “A Lotus Grows in the Mud” which included a vignette exhibiting several points of similarity with the anecdote under examination: 5

Happiness was always important to me. Even at the young age of eleven, it was my biggest ambition. People would ask, “Goldie, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

“Happy,” I would reply, looking in their eyes.

“No, no,” they’d laugh. “That’s really sweet, but I mean . . . what do you want to be? A ballerina? An actress maybe?”

“I just want to be happy.”

The quizzical adults expected young Hawn to respond with the name of a profession or career, but she answered with something she thought was much more important, her desired mental state. Thus, Hawn’s bold guileless behavior in offering the single-word response “happy” matched the core of the anecdote.

Here is one additional citation and the conclusion.

Continue reading They Asked Me What I Wanted To Be When I Grew Up. I Said ‘Happy’


  1. Wikiquote website, Wikiquote webpage for John Lennon: Discussion page, Section: Unsourced, A Wikimedia Project of Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (Accessed wikiquote.org on May 28, 2013) link
  2. 1960 January 11, Reno Evening Gazette, (Peanuts Cartoon Strip), Quote Page 11 (NArch Page 3), Reno, Nevada. (NewspaperArchive)
  3. 1960 January 11, Press-Courier, (Peanuts Cartoon Strip), Quote Page 11, Oxnard, California. (NewspaperArchive)
  4. 1992 March, Vanity Fair, Solid Goldie, (Profile of Goldie Hawn), Start Page 168, Quote Page 220, Column 3, (Advance Magazine Publishers), Conde Nast Publications, New York. (Verified on paper)
  5. 2005, A Lotus Grows in the Mud by Goldie Hawn with Wendy Holden, Section: Growing Pains, Quote Page 17, G. P. Putnam’s Sons – Penguin Group, New York. (Verified on paper)