The Yale Book of Quotations - Correcting Misattributions

Correcting Misattributions

Shapiro's research resulted in some interesting findings, on occasion correcting misattributions elsewhere. The following are representative:

  • It was the Earl of Sandwich and the English actor and playwright Samuel Foote who had the exchange "I think, that you must either die of the p-x, or the halter." "My lord, that will depend upon one of two contingencies;--whether I embrace your lordship's mistress, or your lordship's principles." The Yale Book of Quotations traces this to an 1809 source. Bartlett's Familiar Quotations attributed the exchange to Sandwich and John Wilkes, based upon a 1935 book.
  • "Go West, young man" was indeed by Horace Greeley. As The Yale Book of Quotations describes in a detailed note, many reference works, including Bartlett's and The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, wrongly attribute it to John Soule.
  • "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch" is traced to the Reno Evening Gazette on January 22, 1942, in the form "such a thing as a 'free' lunch never existed." Such a finding would have been unlikely without the use of electronic databases. (Subsequent to the publication of the book, Shapiro reported the discovery of a 1938 use of the phrase.)
  • The remark that Fred Astaire "was great, but don't forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did, . . . backwards and in high heels" has been attributed to Ann Richards, Linda Ellerbee, or Faith Whittlesey. Shapiro found that the earliest reference was in the Frank and Ernest comic strip on May 3, 1982, and he contacted the strip's creator, Bob Thaves, to confirm that Thaves was the originator.

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Famous quotes containing the word correcting:

    Although adults have a role to play in teaching social skills to children, it is often best that they play it unobtrusively. In particular, adults must guard against embarrassing unskilled children by correcting them too publicly and against labeling children as shy in ways that may lead the children to see themselves in just that way.
    Zick Rubin (20th century)