George Bernard Shaw? Brendan Behan? Reba Lombard? Arthur Caesar? George Jean Nathan? Erskine Johnson? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: A remarkably large number of utterances from the prominent Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw appear in quotation collections. Apparently, he once humorously commented on his quoteworthiness. Here are three versions:
- I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.
- I like to quote from myself; it adds spice to the conversation
- I always quote myself. It adds spice to the conversation.
Did Shaw really make one of these remarks? Would you please explore this topic?
Quote Investigator: The earliest match known to QI appeared in the June 1943 issue of “Reader’s Digest” magazine within a section called “Patter” which printed miscellaneous quotations. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1
Bernard Shaw once remarked: “I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.”
QI has not found this quotation in the writings or interviews of Shaw. The items in “Patter” were contributed by readers who received compensation, and some items were of doubtful accuracy. Shaw died in 1950; hence, this quotation was circulating for several years while he was alive which increases its credibility. Nevertheless, QI does not know whether this quotation is authentic.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1943 June, Reader’s Digest, Volume 42, Patter, Quote Page 18, Column 2, The Reader’s Digest Association, Pleasantville, New York. (Verified with hardcopy) ↩