Stephen King? Robert Bloch? Bennett Cerf? Gahan Wilson?
Dear Quote Investigator: A famous horror writer employed a comically gruesome paraprosdokian when discussing temperament. There are many phrasings for this quip. Here is one:
I have the heart of a child. I keep it in a jar on my desk.
This joke has been attributed to horror luminaries Stephen King and Robert Bloch. Would you please explore this topic?
Quote Investigator: Stephen King has employed this line on multiple occasions. However, when he delivered it during a speech at a library in 1983 he credited Robert Bloch.
The earliest match known to QI appeared in “Weird Tales” magazine in 1942. Bloch sent a letter stating that he was crafting new stories that included more humor to accompany the macabre. He illustrated this new direction by providing an amusing self-description. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1
As a matter of fact, I am really a very loveable person, as my friends tell me—or they would, if I had any friends. Deep down underneath it all I have the heart of a small boy. I keep it in a jar, on my desk.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1942 November, Weird Tales, Volume 36, Number 8, Section: The Eyrie and Weird Tales Club, (Letter from Robert Bloch), Quote Page 120, Column 2, Weird Tales, New York. (Verified with scans) ↩