Wear a Smile and Have Friends; Wear a Scowl and Have Wrinkles

George Eliot? Mary Ann Evans? F. O. Hamilton? Lillie Langtry? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The following adage encourages sociability and the projection of happiness:

Wear a smile and have friends; wear a scowl and have wrinkles.

This statement has been credited to George Eliot, a popular Victorian era novelist whose real name was Mary Ann Evans. I am skeptical of this ascription because I have been unable to find a solid citation. What do you think?

Quote Investigator: QI has found no substantive evidence that George Eliot who died in 1880 spoke or wrote this quotation. The earliest close match located by QI appeared in a 1938 article about friendship by F. O. Hamilton. The statement was adjacent to a remark attributed to George Eliot. Shortly afterward the two statements from the essay were quoted together, and both were mistakenly attributed to Eliot. The details are given further below.

The notion that smiling will help a person to gain friends has a long history. In 1871 a newspaper in Yorkville, South Carolina printed the following. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

It is just as easy to smile as it is to frown. A smile will make you friends, and a frown will make you enemies.

The above statement partially matched the quotation, but it referred to frowning instead of scowling.

Continue reading Wear a Smile and Have Friends; Wear a Scowl and Have Wrinkles


  1. 1871 January 12, Yorkville Enquirer, Children’s Department: How To Be a Man, Quote Page 4, Column 4, Yorkville, South Carolina. (Newspapers_com)

Keep a Diary, and Perhaps Someday It Will Keep You

Mae West? Margot Asquith? Lillie Langtry? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The movie star, screenwriter, and sex symbol Mae West once spoke a humorous line about keeping a diary, but I do not recall the precise phrasing. She said a diary might provide the diarist with financial support in the future. Are you familiar with this quip, and do you know when she said it?

Quote Investigator: Mae West wrote the screenplay of the 1937 movie “Every Day’s a Holiday”. She also played the role of Peaches O’Day and delivered this line: 1 2

I always say, keep a diary and someday it’ll keep you.

However, Mae West probably did not originate this comical remark because it was in circulation fifteen years before the movie was released. In 1922 an instance of the joke was attributed to the well-known socialite and notable diarist Margot Asquith. Also, in 1925 the line was ascribed to the stage actress and member of high society Lillie Langtry. Details for these citations are given further below.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Keep a Diary, and Perhaps Someday It Will Keep You


  1. 1967, The Wit and Wisdom of Mae West, Edited by Joseph Weintraub, Page title: Every Day’s a Holiday, Quote Page 47, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York. (Verified on paper)
  2. 2001, Cassell’s Humorous Quotations, Compiled by Nigel Rees, Section: Diaries, Quote Page 118, Column 2, Cassell, London, Also: Sterling Pub. Co., New York. (Verified on paper)