No, Jane Austen did not write that.

Today’s post is about a love quote that is often misattributed to Jane Austen.  Read on to learn who really wrote it as well as who is propagating this misinformation across the internet.

The Misattributed Quote

“To love is to burn, to be on fire.”
Jane Austen

The Correct Quote

“To love is to burn, to be on fire.”
Emma Thompson
Sense and Sensibility screenplay
Director Ang Lee
Columbia Pictures, 1995

The Quote Can Also Be Found in Emma Thompson’s Book

The entire screenplay is included in Emma Thompson’s book Sense and Sensibility: the Screenplay & Diaries currently published by Newmarket Press for It Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.  Please note the original book is titled The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay & Diaries: Bringing Jane Austen’s Novel to Film published by Newmarket Press in 1995.  HarperCollins subsequently acquired the rights.

Statistics

After surveying 65 websites featuring the misattributed quote, I found the following trends.

PercentageType of Website
62%    Social media
12%    Quotes only
8%     Corporation/Corporate individual
8%     Topical Group or Discussion Forum
5%     Informational
3%     Quotes paraphernalia for purchase
1%     Academic/Educational/School
1%     Quotes a major feature

The Source of the Misattributed Quote

Based on the above statistics, by far the main source of today’s misquote is social media.  As I’ve mentioned before, the quote virus loves to spread its disease through social media.  As we know, all it takes is one person posting a misquote on his/her favorite social media site to begin the epidemic.  All of his/her followers receive the infected quote who then spread it to all of their followers who spread it to their followers ad infinitum.

For example, I came across a blog featuring the misquote by itself as a blog post.  I analyzed the statistics listed underneath the post and found it was reblogged 87 times and liked 112 times.  Just imagine how many of those reblogs and likes were subsequently reblogged and liked which were subsequently reblogged and liked.  And this is from a single person.  This is one of the main reasons there are so many misquotes floating around in cyber world.

The bottom line is never believe quotes that are sent to you via social media, yes, even if they’re from your family and friends.

The Cause of the Misattributed Quote

Because the 1995 Sense and Sensibility film is based on the 1811 Sense and Sensibility book, it is easy to understand how the film quote came to be misattributed to the book.  However, these two pieces of art have two separate creators.  Emma Thompson wrote the screenplay, and Jane Austen wrote the book.

As I have mentioned before, just because a film is based on a book does not mean that the entire dialog is verbatim from the book.  If this were the case, the film duration would never fit within a two-hour timeframe.  It is up to the screenwriter to condense the story and dialog into a reasonable feature-film length.  And this is what Emma Thompson did with Jane Austen’s book.

If you are interested in hearing the quote in the movie, it occurs at 19 minutes 24 seconds.  Marianne (played by Kate Winslet) says it to her mother, Mrs. Dashwood (played by Gemma Jones).  Please note, if you happen to view it on a free movie-streaming website, make sure the run time is the full 2 hours and 16 minutes; otherwise, the scene will not occur at the 19-minute mark.

In short, because this quote occurs in the film and does not appear in the book, Emma Thompson is the correct author of the quote.

Screenwriters Often Do Not Get Credit for Their Quotes

My 08/31/15 post titled No, Charles Dickens did not write that and my 06/18/14 post titled F. Scott Fitzgerald Gets Credit Where Credit Isn’t Due are two more examples of screenwriters not getting credit for their quotes.

Most Amusing Finds

I came across a book titled Jane Austen Quotes and Facts.  One of the “facts” is that Austen wrote the misquote.  Hmm . . . I wonder where the author did his “research.”

I also encountered an article in a local news magazine for a city in Massachusetts in which the author claims one of her “favorite novels written by Jane Austen” is Sense and Sensibility.  This author then proceeds to attribute the misquote to Austen and then misspells two characters’ names (Edward Ferrars is spelled Edward Farrows, and Elinor is spelled Eleanor).  Given these are two of the main characters whose names occur repeatedly in the story, one wonders how many times she actually read the book.

Finally, I found our misquote for sale on an apron for $25.55.  Not only is it amusing that flawed merchandise has a price of $25.55, but it is also amusing that an apron features a quote that is about burning and being on fire.  I suppose if you’re really into cooking flambé, it would be a great fit.  But I would think most cooks wouldn’t want to accompany their culinary efforts with the words “burn” and “on fire” (smile, wink, chuckle).

For Sale

Conveniently, today’s misquote is widely available for purchase online.  You can spend as little as $3.70 for a greeting card or as much as $46.95 for a traveler water bottle.  What a deal!

Kill the Quote Virus

The quote virus can only be exterminated through education.  You can be part of the solution by sharing the knowledge.  Please forward this post to family and friends, or if you’re on Facebook, “like” my Facebook fan page.  If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me @SueBrewton.  Remember to practice safe quoting and

“Be the antidote and don’t misquote.”

©Sue Brewton

J. M. Barrie Love Quote Is Actually Not about Love

Today’s post is about a J. M. Barrie quote that is often misworded resulting in a completely different quote with a completely different meaning.  The quote is actually about the topic of charm, but the reworded quote leads us to believe it is about love.  Follow along to learn who is propagating this falsehood.

The Most Popular Misworded Quote Variations

“If you have it [love], you don’t need to have anything else, and if you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter much what else you have.”
J. M. Barrie

“If you have it [love], you don’t need anything else, and if you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter much what else you have.”
J. M. Barrie

“If you have love, you don’t need to have anything else, and if you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter much what else you have.”
J. M. Barrie

“If you have love, you don’t need to have anything else.  If you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter much what else you do have.”
J. M. Barrie

“If you have love, you don’t need anything else.  If you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter much what else you do have.”
J. M. Barrie

“If you have it (love), you don’t need to have anything else, and if you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter much what else you have.”
J. M. Barrie

The Correct Quote

“If you have it, you don’t need to have anything else; and if you don’t have it, it doesn’t much matter what else you have.”
J. M. Barrie
What Every Woman Knows, Act I

More Misquote Variations

I have researched many misquotes, but I have to say this particular one has more variations than any other I have seen thus far.  The variations listed above are the most popular, but they come in many other flavors.  Some have additional words inserted; some have words deleted; some have words rearranged, and some have all three.  Some are split into two separate sentences; some are not.  Punctuation varies widely.

However, there is one thing they all have in common, and that is the word “love” has been erroneously inserted into the beginning phrase.  Here are some variations not listed above:

Love:  If you have it . . .
Love… If you have it . . .
Love, if you have it . . .
Love? If you have it . . .

Exactly when someone decided to introduce love into this quote, I don’t know.  But what I do know is that this quote is not about love.  Surprise!

This Quote Is Not about Love

A few years after the successful release of his play Peter Pan, J. M. (James Matthew) Barrie wrote a comedy titled What Every Woman Knows.  This quote is from Act I of that play.  The quote is part of a reply by the character, Maggie, to a question posed to her about charm.  What follows are pages 14 and 15 of the 1918 publication of the play.  Note the question about charm is at the bottom of page 14 highlighted in pink followed by the quote, found in Maggie’s reply, at the top of page 15 highlighted in yellow.

Page 14 of J. M. Barrie's 'What Every Woman Knows' Showing the Topic Is Charm

Page 14 of J. M. Barrie’s ‘What Every Woman Knows’ Showing the Topic Is Charm

The Quote on Page 15 of 1918 Publication of J. M. Barrie's 'What Every Woman Knows'

The Quote on Page 15 of 1918 Publication of J. M. Barrie’s ‘What Every Woman Knows’

Here is the title page:

Title Page of 1918 Publication of J. M. Barrie's 'What Every

Title Page of 1918 Publication of J. M. Barrie’s ‘What Every Woman Knows’

This Quote Is about Charm

As you can see, the context of the quote is the topic of charm and what exactly it is.  I can only speculate as to how it came to be about love.  My guess is that it has something to do with an earlier conversation in the play.  Prior to meeting Maggie, the male characters have a discussion about love; perhaps this is how it gets associated with the quote.

Statistics

After surveying 113 websites featuring the misworded quote, I found the following trends.

PercentageType of Website
26%    Quotes only
23%    Social Media
21%    Informational
8%     Corporation/corporate individual
8%     Topical group or discussion forum
6%     Online app or service
4%     Quotes a major feature
2%     Quotes paraphernalia for purchase
2%     Academic/educational/school

The Sources of the Misworded Quote

Based on the above statistics, websites that specialize solely in quotes are the biggest offenders.  As we’ve seen in so many of my previous posts, this is extremely common.  I must reiterate that these sites should never be used as a resource for quotes.

Social media websites are a very close second.  This means you should never trust a quote that is sent to you via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or any other social media site.  As we have learned before, the quote virus does its best work through social media.  When one person posts a contaminated quote, it spreads to all of his/her followers who spread it to all of their followers and so on and so forth.

Informational websites come in third which is unusual.  Typically this category falls into a single-digit percentage.  To date, I’ve only researched three other misquotes with informational websites ranking in double-digit percentages.  The moral of this story is even websites dealing with facts such as news, statistics, and other data can be infected with misquotes.

Modern Quote Books Feature Misquotes

I came across six books published in the 2000s featuring today’s misquote.  One of them was a quotes-only book.  I must reiterate if a quote book does not provide detailed source information for each quote, it is not reliable.  The name attribution alone is not sufficient.  It should be accompanied by the work in which the quote is found followed by applicable information such as chapter, act, scene, stanza, line, etc.

Many authors create their quote books by simply compiling quotes they’ve collected from unreliable sources.  Additionally, many of them further complicate things when they transcribe the quotes incorrectly resulting in misworded, misattributed, inaccurate data.  This creates a breeding ground for the quote virus: one reader copies the infected quote onto one of his/her social media websites which then infects all of his/her followers who infect all of their followers ad infinitum.

For Sale

As usual, today’s misworded quote is available for purchase.  I came across a wall art company selling it for $20 to $50 depending on size.  The artwork is actually very creative and beautiful.  What a shame that it’s flawed.

Kill the Quote Virus

Today’s misquote demonstrates how the quote virus can change the entire meaning of a quote by adding a new word to it.  This mutated version then travels across the internet multiplying and spawning new strains as it goes.  You can help exterminate this modern-day pestilence by sharing the knowledge.  Please forward this post to family and friends, “like” my Facebook fan page or follow me @SueBrewton on Twitter. Until next time, practice safe quoting and

“Be the antidote and don’t misquote.”

©Sue Brewton

No, Charles Dickens did not write that.

Today’s post is about an inspirational quote that is often misattributed to Charles Dickens.  Follow along to learn who really wrote it and why it continues to proliferate across the internet.

The Misattributed Quote

“Happiness is a gift and the trick is not to expect it but to delight in it when it comes.”
Charles Dickens
Nicholas Nickleby

The Correct Quote

“Happiness is a gift and the trick is not to expect it but to delight in it when it comes.”
Douglas McGrath
Nicholas Nickleby screenplay
Director Douglas McGrath
United Artists, 2002

Statistics

After surveying 104 websites featuring the misattributed quote, I found the following trends.

PercentageType of Website
41%    Social Media
16%    Corporation/Corporate individual
16%    Quotes only
9%     Informational
7%     Topical group or discussion forum
3%     Quotes paraphernalia for purchase
3%     Academic/educational/school
2%     Quotes a major feature
2%     Online app or service
1%     Organization

The Sources of the Misattributed Quote

Based on the above statistics, social media websites are the main mode of propagation for this misquote.  As I mentioned in my previous post, the quote virus loves social media.  It is one of the most effective ways to spread a contaminated quote.  A single person can post one misquote, and it will spread to all of his/her followers who then spread it to all of their followers who spread it to all of their followers and so on and so forth.  The bottom line is never believe a quote that is sent to you via social media.  There’s a high probability it is inaccurate.

As usual, quotes-only websites are in the top three offenders list.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, websites that specialize solely in providing quotes are the most erroneous sources for quotes.  For the most part, they are duplicates of each other and feature the same misquotes and typos often in the exact same order.  For some reason, these website administrators do not verify the information they are publishing.  Because they are so unreliable, I highly recommend avoiding them.

The Cause of the Misattributed Quote

Because the 2002 Nicholas Nickleby film is based on the Nicholas Nickleby book, it is easy to understand how the film quote came to be misattributed to the book.  However, they are two separate pieces of art with two separate creators.  Douglas McGrath wrote the screenplay, and Charles Dickens wrote the book.

Just because a film is based on a book does not mean that the entire dialog is verbatim from the book.  If this were the case, the film duration could never fit within a two-hour timeframe.  It is up to the screenwriter to condense the story and dialog into a reasonable feature-film length.  In his article “Nipping ‘Nickleby’” featured on Variety.com, McGrath humorously explains if he kept all parts of the book, “The film would then run 35 hours (34 if I cut the scene in the garden).”  Later in the article, he describes how he came up with this quote.

If you are interested in hearing the quote in the movie, it occurs in narration (Nathan Lane) during the wedding scene at the end of the film.

In short, because this quote occurs in the film and does not appear in the book, Douglas McGrath is the correct author of the quote.

My 06/18/14 post titled F. Scott Fitzgerald Gets Credit Where Credit Isn’t Due is another example of a screenwriter not getting credit for a quote.  In this instance the screenwriter is Eric Roth for his work in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Most Disappointing Find

I came across two professors with this misquote on their university homepages.  I am disappointed and saddened to find that the quote virus has wormed its way into the hallowed halls of academia.

Most Amusing Find

I found today’s misquote on a quotes-only website where the administrator claims his website is different from all others because his quotes are unique.  He writes, “Unlike other websites which source their quotes from some other websites, I handpick quotes from magazines, articles, interviews, newspapers, books etc. so users get a plethora of unique and interesting quotes.”  The funny/sad thing is his site not only features today’s misquote but also features other commonly misattributed quotes.  In reality, his site is just like the rest of them—unverified and unreliable.

Bibliophile Websites Are Not Reliable Sources for Quotes

One would think that a bibliophile website would be a great resource for book quotes.  After all, this is a place where avid readers communicate and share their love of books.  However, I came across five book-lover websites that feature today’s misquote.  I’ve also seen this phenomenon while doing research for previous blog posts.  It appears that even though these people profess their love for books, not all of them are genuine and are getting their quotes from quote websites, social media, or sources other than the actual book they are quoting.  So the moral is do not trust quotes found on these websites.

For Sale

As with so many of my previous posts, today’s misquote is also available for purchase.  I found a necklace offered for $10.96 and a bracelet for $34.00.  But wait! It gets better.  You can also purchase a heart pendant necklace on sale for just $24.98; the regular price is $55.00.  So my question is, “what happened?”  Did the price get reduced because someone realized the quote on the pendant was inaccurate?  Hmm . . . Something tells me that’s wishful thinking on my part (smile, wink, chuckle).

Final Analysis

In conclusion, never trust quotes on social media.  Never trust quotes from quote websites.  Never trust quotes found on academic websites.  Never trust quotes from bibliophile websites.  Never trust quotes found on merchandise for sale.

Only use quotes from a source that contains verified AND detailed source information with each quote.  The name attribution alone is not sufficient.  It should be accompanied by the title of the work in which the quote is found as well as relevant information such as chapter, act, scene, line number, stanza, etc.

Kill the Quote Virus

We can only exterminate the quote virus through education.  Please share the knowledge by forwarding this post to family and friends.  You can also “like” my Facebook fan page or follow me @SueBrewton on Twitter to help spread the word.

“Be the antidote and don’t misquote.”

©Sue Brewton

Walt Whitman vs. Henry Miller

The subject of today’s post is a quote that is often misattributed to Walt Whitman.  The correct source is actually Henry Miller.  Read on to learn who is responsible for perpetuating this misquote.

The Misattributed Quote

“Do anything, but let it produce joy.”
Walt Whitman

The Correct Quote

“Do anything, but let it produce joy.”
Henry Miller
Tropic of Cancer
Chapter 13

The Correct Work of Origin is Tropic of Cancer

Henry Miller’s novel Tropic of Cancer published in 1934 is the work in which the quote is found.  Here is the quote featured in chapter 13.

The Quote Found in 'Tropic of Cancer' by Henry Miller

The Quote Found in ‘Tropic of Cancer’ by Henry Miller

Here is the book title page.

Title Page of 'Tropic of Cancer' by Henry Miller

Title Page of ‘Tropic of Cancer’ by Henry Miller

Statistics

After surveying 115 websites featuring the misattributed quote, I found the following trends.

PercentageType of Website
39%    Social Media
24%    Corporation/corporate individual
12%    Quotes only
6%     Informational (sports, science, news, etc.)
5%     Online app or service
3%     Quotes a major feature
3%     Academic/educational/school
3%     Quotes paraphernalia for purchase
3%     Discussion forum
2%     Organization

The Source of the Misattributed Quote

In a rare twist of events it is not the usual quotes-only websites that are the major offenders in propagating a misquote.  Out of the 115 websites featuring this misattributed quote, I found it is social media that is the main culprit.  As I have discussed in previous posts, the quote virus thrives through social media.  Every time a misquote is posted on a social media website, it becomes a contagion waiting to be spread via sharing, retweeting, repinning, etc.  Much like a physiological virus, the quote virus multiplies by moving from a single person to all others who follow that person, and each of those people spread it to all of their followers who spread it to all of their followers and so on and so forth.

The Source of the Work Can Also Be Misattributed

Most quotes found on the internet and in quote books simply attribute the author of the quote and do not include the work in which the quote is found.  However, today’s misquote is unusual in that 37% of the websites I surveyed cite Walt Whitman’s poetry anthology Leaves of Grass in addition to his name.  Clearly whoever originated the misquote included the work and then most people who propagated it copied the entire citation.  So not only is the author incorrect but the work of origin is incorrect.

Quote Books Are Not Always Reliable

I came across a book of quotes published in 2014 that includes today’s misattributed quote.  This author clearly did not research her subject matter and, unfortunately, will now be another source of misquote propagation.  As I’ve mentioned before, just because a book is solely dedicated to quotes does not mean it contains accurate quotes.  Be wary of quote books that do not include detailed source information.  For example, if Leaves of Grass is cited, it should include the title of the poem and the section and line number(s) featuring the quote.  The author’s name alone is not sufficient.

Educators Are Also Guilty of Misquotes

Unfortunately, the quote virus has infiltrated our educational system.  I came across two elementary school websites featuring today’s misattributed quote on teacher bios.  It is disappointing that a teacher wouldn’t take the time to find a legitimate quote out of a work s/he actually read.  A school is the one place one would hope to find reliable information.  With the proliferation of so much inaccurate data on the internet, this is not the case.  Even educators have fallen victim to the quote virus.

False Advertising

I came across an e-book service that offers Leaves of Grass as a free download.  The funny (sad) thing is that the description next to Whitman’s book includes Henry Miller’s quote.  This is obviously very misleading.

I also stumbled upon a rare books website selling a second edition of Leaves of Grass for $15,000.  This website also places today’s misattributed quote next to the Whitman’s book.  More false advertising.

Most Amusing Find

I discovered a floral design business actually called Leaves of Grass Designs, and the misquote is the first thing listed under the website’s “About” page.  It is followed by claims they will bring “joy” to your event and that their flowers are “joyful.”  Clearly, this business was named after a misquote.

For Sale

There are many websites offering misquotes for sale, and today’s misquote is no exception.  For example, I found t-shirts ranging from $17.95 to $20.95 as well as greeting cards in a box set of eight for $24.00.  I would say that’s a pretty good profit for flawed merchandise.

Kill the Quote Virus

I will close once again with a plea to you, dear reader, to help kill the quote virus.  Please practice safe quoting by following the tips on my “What You Can Do” page.  You can also help by sharing the knowledge.  Forward this post to family and friends or “like” my Facebook fan page or follow me on Twitter.  And remember:  don’t trust any quotes sent to you via social media.  Check them out before sharing them.

“Be the antidote and don’t misquote.”

©Sue Brewton

Reintroducing Miss Quote

It was recently brought to my attention that the Miss Quote video does not play on all mobile devices.  I have reformatted it to correct this problem.  So I would like to take this opportunity to reintroduce the character of Miss Quote who loves quotes but just can’t seem to get them right.  Bring your popcorn and sense of humor and watch episode 1 as Miss Quote learns who REALLY said, “To be or not to be.”

Introducing The Adventures of Miss Quote

I would like to announce the world debut of Miss Quote.  She’s a woman who loves quotes but just can’t seem to get them right.  Click on the following link to see her latest adventure:

Miss Quote Learns Shakespeare

Warning:  Bear with me.  The lip movement is glitchy and sometimes doesn’t sync.  George Lucas I am not.

Edgar Allan Poe vs. Washington Irving

Today’s topic is a motivational quote that is often falsely attributed to Edgar Allan Poe.  Unfortunately, the misattributed version is wildly popular across the internet.

The Misattributed Quote

“There is an eloquence in true enthusiasm that is not to be doubted.”
Edgar Allan Poe

The Correct Quote

“There is an eloquence in true enthusiasm that is not to be doubted.”
Washington Irving
“The Adventure of the German Student”
Tales of a Traveller

Here is the quote found in the short story “The Adventure of the German Student” by Washington Irving.

The Quote Found in “The Adventure of the German Student” by Washington Irving

The Quote Found in “The Adventure of the German Student” by Washington Irving

Here is the title page of the book Tales of a Traveller in which the short story appears.  The book was first published in 1824 by Washington Irving under the pseudonym Geoffrey Crayon.  Irving is best known for his short stories “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

Title Page of the Book Tales of a Traveller Showing the Author is Geoffrey Crayon, One of Irving’s Pseudonyms

Title Page of the Book Tales of a Traveller Showing the Author is Geoffrey Crayon, One of Irving’s Pseudonyms

Statistics

Today’s misquote has a serious case of quote virus infection.  It has contaminated a multitude of websites as well as modern books.  I surveyed 130 infected websites and found the following statistics.

PercentageType of Website
43%    Quotes-only or Quotes a major feature
33%    Social media
10%    Community/shared interest/discussion forum
5%     Corporate individuals or companies
4%     Online service or app
3%     Academic/educational/school
2%     Quotes paraphernalia for purchase

As in all my previous posts, the majority of websites featuring the misquote are websites dedicated solely to providing quotes.  Out of the 43% only six sites featured other non-quote information.  Once again, the lesson is do not rely on quotes websites for accurate quotes.  I know it doesn’t make sense that they are the least reliable since their sole purpose is to provide quotes.  Unfortunately, the administrators of these sites do not check the accuracy of the data they are providing, and many simply copy information verbatim from other inaccurate websites.  In fact many quotes websites contain the exact same quotes, the exact same misquotes with the exact same typos in the exact same order found on other quotes websites.  And as I’ve mentioned before, these types of websites continue to multiply like a virus.  Each time I do research for my next blog post, I notice new duplicate websites rearing their ugly heads.

The Possible Cause of the Misattribution

There are many books that feature the writings of both Edgar Allan Poe and Washington Irving.  Most of these books are collections of ghost stories or tales of the supernatural.  Some are collections of works by authors from the same time period or from the same country.  Since Poe and Irving happen to be grouped in several categories together, they are both often found within the same anthology.  One could surmise that perhaps a quote was taken from one of these collections and was inadvertently attributed to the wrong author in the collection.  This is a complete guess on my part, but I’m basing it on past experience with multiple authors found within the same book.  See my previous post dated 10/21/14 titled “Who wrote it? Wordsworth or Michelangelo?” as well as my post on 08/12/14 titled “Another Erroneous Inspirational Quote—Another Method of Origin.”  These two posts support my theory.

The Cause of Misquote Propagation

As my statistics indicate, social media is the second most popular category of website featuring today’s misquote.  The reason these sites play a major role in misquote propagation is they all feature some type of functionality to forward and re-post messages and images that users create.  For example, one Twitter user can create a cascade of re-tweets from a single tweet of a misquote.  In other words, the misquote travels from one person to multiple people who then forward it to multiple people who then forward it to multiple people and so on.  This is why I call it a quote virus.  Its propagation is very similar to a physiological or computer virus.  Social media together with quotes websites are the fuel propelling the spread of false information at an increasingly rapid pace.

Books

I came across two books featuring today’s misquote.  Both were published in 2010.  One is a book of strictly quotes.  The other is a book containing a chapter dedicated to quotes.  Neither of these books provides detailed source information for each quote; the author/orator’s name is the only information given.  This leads me to repeat my warning to be extra cautious when using quote books published after the birth of the internet.  Most of them are compilations of quotes found either on the internet or in other contemporary quote books.  Do not trust a book if the quotes do not include source information such as book title, chapter, play title, act, scene, poem title, line number, speech date, location, etc.  This applies to all books regardless of publication date.

Most Disappointing Find

The most disappointing discovery to me is that this misquote appears on academic websites for schools and universities.  Because information released from an educational institution or an educator is presumed to be current and accurate, a misquote disseminated from these types of sources might as well be gospel.  I actually came across two teachers who not only misattributed the quote to Poe but they also misspelled his middle name.  Additionally, I found an article produced by a writing consortium at a prestigious university featuring the same errors.  It is disconcerting that well-respected sources of information and knowledge play a part in misquote propagation.

Most Amusing Find

Although I am amused, I am also saddened by the following.  I came across a blogger whose home page title is “The Future Star of the Literary World,” and on the same page she cites Irving’s quote as being from The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe.  I came across another blogger who refers to herself as a “Poe Girl” on her title page, and underneath this title is Irving’s quote misattributed to Poe.

For Sale

As with many of my previous posts, today’s misquote is available for purchase.  For just $6.50 you can purchase one greeting card, or for $20.95 you can have your own coffee mug.  Not only do both items feature this very special misquote, but both come with Poe’s name misspelled and as a bonus the word “eloquence” is misspelled.  Be sure to place your order soon while supplies last!

Kill the Quote Virus

In conclusion, I will reiterate my admonition to never trust a quote from a quotes website, and never trust a quote found on social media.  Always make sure the quote is from a reliable source.  Please visit my “What You Can Do” page for a complete list of pitfalls to avoid.

To help extinguish the quote virus, please share this post with your friends and family, and “like” my Sue Brewton Author Facebook fan page to help spread the word.  And remember to

“Be the antidote and don’t misquote.”

©Sue Brewton

Who wrote it? Wordsworth or Michelangelo?

The topic of today’s post is an inspirational quote that is found across the internet falsely attributed to William Wordsworth.

The Misattributed Quote 

“Love betters what is best.”
William Wordsworth

The Correct Quote

“Love betters what is best.”
Michelangelo
Translated into English by William Wordsworth
Poems, volume I by William Wordsworth
Sonnets part I, sonnet 11

Statistics

This misquote isn’t quite as rampant as previous posts; however, given some time, I’m sure the quote virus will do its dirty work.  Out of 41 websites surveyed, here is what I found:

PercentageType of Website
29%    Quotes-only
29%    Social media
24%    Informational
7%     Books
5%     Corporate individuals or companies
2%     Services
2%     Quotes paraphernalia for purchase
2%     Discussion forums

Once again, one of the largest percentages belongs to websites dedicated solely to providing quotes.  Interestingly, social media tied with the same percentage.  This leads me to reiterate to never trust quotes found on quotes-only websites, and never trust quotes posted on your friends’ and family’s social media pages.  As the above numbers show, social media is another major source of misquote propagation.

Cause of the Misattribution

The primary reason this quote gets attributed to William Wordsworth is that he translated it into English from the Italian of Michelangelo and featured it in his own book Poems, in two volumes, first published in 1807.  Here is a disclaimer found in a later edition of the book:

Translation Disclaimer in Poems, in two volumes by William Wordsworth

Translation Disclaimer in Poems, in two volumes by William Wordsworth

Here is the quote found within Michelangelo’s poem:

The Quote Found within Michelangelo’s Poem

The Quote Found within Michelangelo’s Poem

Additionally, in July of 1859, the North American Review magazine did an article titled “The Life of Michel Angelo Buonarroti, with Translations of Many of his Poems and Letters” explaining that Wordsworth did the translation.  Here is the excerpt from the article:

Excerpt from North American Review Article Stating Wordsworth Did the Translation

Excerpt from North American Review Article Stating Wordsworth Did the Translation

Here is the first page of the article showing the title of the magazine and article:

Title Page of the Michelangelo Article Stating the Poems are Translations

Title Page of the Michelangelo Article Stating the Poems are Translations

Obviously, the misquote stems from someone who did not actually read Wordsworth’s book, assumed all content was written by him and then published this misinformation which then propagated over the centuries.  This is not the first time in my research that I have come across this type of origination.  Unfortunately, there are other authors whose works were translated by someone other than themselves and consequently misattributed.

Most Disappointing Find

Sadly, one of the websites featuring this misquote was an author interview website.  And it was a modern-day author who stated it was her favorite quote by Wordsworth.  I say “sadly” because even the educated ranks have been infiltrated with the vast quantity of repeated erroneous information on the internet.  This author is a member of the literary community, yet she is proliferating false literary information.  Unfortunately, in my research I have encountered many university papers and books written by professors containing misquotes.  This indicates that even scholars cannot be trusted with quotes.  To reiterate, if the quote is not accompanied by detailed source information such as book title and chapter or play title with act and scene, it should not be considered reliable.

Replication of Misinformation

One item of note is that the informational websites making up the 24% featuring the misquote are all either English dictionary websites or translation websites from various languages into English.  This demonstrates that, much like quote websites, these dictionary websites have all replicated each other with the same misinformation.  It’s a shame that these websites, which have a great educational purpose, lose credibility because the content has not been checked for integrity.

Books

The books I found that contain the misquote are all books dedicated solely to quotes.  They were published beginning in the 1800s up to present day.  Most likely the modern-day books copied content found in previous quote books, resulting in the propagation of erroneous information.  If you are going to use a quote book, make sure it is one that includes not only the author/orator’s name but also source information for each quote such as the book, chapter, play, act, scene, poem, line number, speech date and location, etc.

For Sale

As a final note, this misquote is available for purchase.  For $120.74, you can have your own trinket box featuring flawed information to be handed down generation after generation.

Kill the Quote Virus

To learn how you can avoid fake quotes, visit my “What You Can Do” page.  To help extinguish the quote virus, share the information with your family and friends, and “like” my Sue Brewton Author Facebook page.

“Be the antidote and don’t misquote.”

©Sue Brewton

John Milton vs. Francis Bacon

Today’s topic is about a quote that is often found falsely attributed to John Milton.  It is popular across the internet and in modern books.

The Misattributed Quote

“He that studieth revenge keepeth his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well.”
John Milton

The Correct Quote

“A man that studieth revenge, keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal, and do well.”
Francis Bacon
“Of Revenge”
The Essays or Counsels, Civil and Moral

The Reliable Version

Please note there are two versions of this quote by Francis Bacon.  The more reliable quote begins with the words “A man that” and is found in the essay “Of Revenge” in the book The Essays or Counsels, Civil and Moral written by Bacon.  Here is the quote found in the book:

The Quote Found in the Essay “Of Revenge” in the Book, The Essays or Counsels, Civil and Moral, by Francis Bacon

The Quote Found in the Essay “Of Revenge” in the Book, The Essays or Counsels, Civil and Moral, by Francis Bacon

Here is the title page of the book:

Title Page of the Book, The Essays or Counsels, Civil and Moral, by Francis Bacon

Title Page of the Book, The Essays or Counsels, Civil and Moral, by Francis Bacon

The Unreliable Version

The quote that begins “He that” was first printed in Baconiana magazine in 1679 under the title Ornamenta Rationalia.  Here is the Baconiana cover page:

Title Page of the 1679 edition of Baconiana Magazine

Title Page of the 1679 edition of Baconiana Magazine

Ornamenta Rationalia is a list of sayings, some made by Bacon and some collected by Bacon from Publius Syrus.  However, it was not expressly written by Bacon but was compiled for the magazine from some of his notes that were collected posthumously.  Here is the title page featuring the publisher’s note:

The Publisher’s Note Found in "Ornamenta Rationalia" Stating It Was Not Expressly Written by Francis Bacon

The Publisher’s Note Found in “Ornamenta Rationalia” Stating It Was Not Expressly Written by Francis Bacon

As the above title page shows, the first part of Ornamenta Rationalia is a collection of sayings from the ancient Latin writer Publius Syrus (correct spelling is Publilius Syrus) which were collected by Bacon.  The second part is a collection of sayings taken from some of Bacon’s writings.  Some of the sentences are verbatim and some are not.  This particular quote is not verbatim as it begins with the words, “He that.”  Here is the quote from Ornamenta Rationalia:

The quote found in "Ornamenta Rationalia." Note the wording is altered, and the second half of the quote is missing.

The quote found in “Ornamenta Rationalia.” Note the wording is altered, and the second half of the quote is missing.

The above excerpt also shows that the latter part of the quote, “which otherwise would heal, and do well,” is deleted.  Since this version was published posthumously and was compiled by someone other than Bacon, it is not the reliable version.  Fortunately, the meaning is not altered by the rewording, but if you’re looking for the exact quote, use the one from the “Of Revenge” essay from the book The Essays or Counsels, Civil and Moral written by Bacon and published during his life time.

Statistics

Once again, the quote virus is at work spreading infected information across the universe.  After perusing 95 websites featuring this Francis Bacon quote incorrectly attributed to John Milton, here is what I found:

PercentageType of Website
43%    Quotes-only
15%    Discussion forums
15%    Social media
12%    Informational (politics, newspapers, magazines, etc.)
8%     Quotes a major feature
4%     Corporate individuals or companies
2%     Academic/educational
1%     Quotes paraphernalia for purchase

As usual, it is the websites specializing in quotes only that make up the largest percentage of misquote offenders.  Hmm . . . there seems to be a pattern here.  If you go back and read all of my previous blog posts, you will see that ALL of them report this same result.  The disturbing thing is that the number of quote websites is growing.  Every three to four months, I notice new quote websites rearing their ugly heads.  After researching quotes for four years, I am very familiar with the names of most of these sites, so when a new one pops up, I spot it immediately.  As a side note, I have noticed that a lot of these sites contain pages that are exact copies of pages from other quote websites, meaning the quotes are in the exact same order featuring the exact same misquotes and the exact same typos.  The bottom line is that a website that specializes in quotes is typically the worst place to get reliable quotes.  This doesn’t make sense, but it seems to be the case.

Contemporary Authors Are Another Source of Misquote Propagation

This misquote is also featured in at least two books of quote collections published in the 21st century.  I also found it in five non-quote books, usually at the beginning of a chapter.

Unfortunately, modern authors use quote websites as a resource to find quotes to include in their books.  So when they inadvertently cite a misquote, their book becomes a new source of quote contamination and helps to perpetuate the spread of this misinformation.

Educators Are Another Source of Misquote Propagation

Some modern-day educators also use quote websites as a resource for quotes to include in their educational literature.  This creates a double jeopardy situation because most people assume if the information is coming from an educator or educational institution, it is accurate.  However, in my research, I have come across misquotes featured on university websites as well as in theses, papers, and books written by professors.  This doesn’t occur often, but it is still disappointing that academic sources like these can contribute to misquote proliferation.

Most Disappointing Find

Another disappointing place where this misquote occurs is on a website offering free books online.  Their John Milton page includes a biography about Milton as well as a list of quotes by him.  Unfortunately, the quote list includes this misquote.  Obviously whoever created this page did not actually read Milton’s books and probably copied the quotes from another source without verifying them.  This is a shame because the overall purpose of this website is meaningful and extremely beneficial; to have a free treasure trove of great literature at your finger tips any time you want it is invaluable.  It is unfortunate that what could be a great educational resource is marred by inaccurate information.

For Sale

Finally, on a lighter note, if you are interested in purchasing flawed merchandise, today’s misquote can be found for sale on the internet.  That’s right folks.  For just $31.95 you can have your own misquote coffee mug.  What a bargain!

Help Kill the Quote Virus

I will conclude with another plea to help stop the madness.  Please share this blog post and/or share my “What You Can Do” page.  Every little bit of shared knowledge makes a difference.

“Be the antidote and don’t misquote.”

©Sue Brewton

Another Erroneous Inspirational Quote—Another Method of Origin

Today’s post is about a motivational quote which can be found across the internet falsely attributed to Mark Twain.  Because it currently only appears on a handful of websites, I normally wouldn’t write about it; however, the method by which it is born is unique from all my previous posts and warrants at least a brief discussion.

The Misattributed Quote 

“Courage and perseverance will accomplish success.”
Mark Twain

The Correct Quote

“Courage and perseverance will accomplish success.”
Samuel Watson Royston
“The Enemy Conquered”

The Correct Source

The true source of this quote is the short story “The Enemy Conquered” by Samuel Watson Royston.  Here is the title page:

The Title Page of the Correct Source of the Quote

The Title Page of the Correct Source of the Quote

Here is the quote found in the book:

The Quote Found in "The Enemy Conquered" by Samuel Watson Royston

The Quote Found in “The Enemy Conquered” by Samuel Watson Royston

The Cause of the Misattribution

This quote gets misattributed to Mark Twain because he includes Samuel Watson Royston’s entire short story within his own book The £1,000,000 Bank-Note and Other New Stories.  A perusal of the table of contents would lead one to believe Twain is the author of the story as it does not include a reference to Royston; however, if time is taken to actually read the book, one would find the story is prefaced with a statement by Twain explaining why he included it in his book.  Here is the statement:

Introduction to Royston’s Short Story Where Mark Twain Explains Why He Included It in His Book

Introduction to Royston’s Short Story Where Mark Twain Explains Why He Included It in His Book

Essentially, Twain was compelled to include the work in its entirety to support his scathing critique of it.  The review is so unflattering that he substitutes Royston’s name with G. Ragsdale McClintock.  Here is the disclaimer:

Disclaimer Stating the Name G. Ragsdale McClintock Is a Substitute for the Real Author’s Name

Disclaimer Stating the Name G. Ragsdale McClintock Is a Substitute for the Real Author’s Name

Twain titled the review “A Cure for the Blues” insinuating the work’s inferior style of writing will provide the reader with a laugh.  Obviously, his description of it as a “great work” is sarcastic and not meant to be taken seriously.

This particular misquote was probably initiated by someone who did not actually read the book and assumed all the contents were written by Twain.  Oddly enough, all the websites featuring this misquote are literary in nature except for one which was a blog.  One audio book website actually created a fake, distressed book cover with the title The Curious Book:  A Love Story by Mark Twain.  The surprising thing is that they used the title Twain used to explain why he included another author’s work (see the previous “The Curious Book Complete” image).  One wonders how this could have been overlooked by people who are supposedly avid readers and book enthusiasts.  Clearly no one actually read the book. What a disappointment.

Beware of Anthologies

Although the cause of this type of misquote is not common, I have definitely encountered it more than once in my four years of research.  It usually evolves from books that are collections of works by multiple authors in a particular category.  For example, a book may be an anthology of English poets, and a misquote will arise due to the reader/quoter not double checking which author’s work the quote came from, and as a result William Wordsworth will be credited with words that were actually written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning or some other poet found in the collection.  And, as I have discussed in all my previous posts, just one person publishing a misquote on the internet or in a book will result in propagation of it.

Help Kill the Quote Virus

I will once again conclude with a plea to always get your quotes from a reliable source.  If you cannot find the quote from accompanying detailed source information, do not trust it.  Be especially wary of quotes from internet sources.  As today’s misquote demonstrates, even literary and educational websites are not infallible.  Avoid the quote virus by only using verified quotes.  And remember to

“Be the Antidote and Don’t Misquote.”

©Sue Brewton