Alexandre Dumas? Ralph Waldo Emerson? William J. Snelling? Jacques-François Ancelot? Jules Janin? William Pulling? Alphonse de Lamartine? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: One success often leads to another success in a chain of achievement, opportunity, and good fortune. A popular adage expresses this idea:
Nothing succeeds like success.
This phrase has been attributed to several French writers including Alexandre Dumas who wrote “Le Comte de Monte-Cristo” (“The Count of Monte Cristo”). Would you please explore this topic?
Quote Investigator: This adage evolved over time, and the earliest instances located by QI occurred in French. The saying moved from French to English by 1847. QI believes that the origin of this saying is best described as anonymous. Here is an overview with dates:
1826: Rien ne réussit en France comme le succès. (Nothing succeeds in France like success.) Written by M.R.
1827: Rien ne réussit comme un succès. (Nothing succeeds like a success.) Written by Jacques-François Ancelot
1837: Rien ne réussit comme le succès. (Nothing succeeds like success.) Attributed to Jules Janin
1847: Nothing succeeds like success. Written by William J. Snelling who was translating a story by Alexandre Dumas into English
In 1826 “Le Mercure du dix-neuvième siècle” (“The Nineteenth Century Mercury”) published an article by a music critic who used the initials M.R. The critic employed a version of the saying while praising a piece of music. Passages in French in this article are followed by English translations. Boldface added to excepts by QI:1826, Le Mercure du dix-neuvième siècle (The Nineteenth Century Mercury), Tome Quinzième (Fifteenth Volume), Théatres: Académie Royale De Musique by M.R., Start Page 69, Quote Page 73, Au Bureau … Continue reading
On a déjà dit que rien ne réussit en France comme le succès: vous allez voir réussir celui-ci.
It has already been said that nothing succeeds in France like success: you are going to see this one succeed.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.