Mark Twain? Oscar Wilde? Josh Billings? Spanish Proverb? Anonymous?
Never put off till tomorrow, what you can do the day after tomorrow.
Puzzlingly, this same quip has been ascribed to the famous wit Oscar Wilde. Who said it first?
Quote Investigator: In July 1870 an article by Mark Twain was published in “The Galaxy” magazine. One section of the article expressed unhappiness with the aphorisms popularized by Benjamin Franklin. Twain stated the following desire: 1
… snub those pretentious maxims of his; which he worked up with a great show of originality out of truisms that had become wearisome platitudes as early as the dispersion from Babel …
Twain constructed a comical adage that he farcically attributed to Franklin:
Never put off till to-morrow what you can do day after to-morrow just as well.—B. F.
This is the earliest evidence QI has found for this type of quip from Twain or Wilde. The word “the” was omitted before the phrase “day after to-morrow”. A similar adage was credited to Oscar Wilde in a biography published in 1946, and the details are given further below. However, this evidence was weak because Wilde died decades earlier in 1900.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.