Grace's Mosaic Moments

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Debunking "Male" Quotes

To add a bit of color to today's blog, find the ET in this photo. (His name is Harry)
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All information below (except for one Grace Note) is excerpted from "Anonymous was a Woman" by Fred R. Shapiro, Yale Alumni Magazine, Jan/Feb 2011.

 "I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman."
—Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own.

Grace note:  Mr. Shapiro agrees with Ms Woolf and without delving too deeply into the obvious male dominance behind the misattributions he found, simply offers them as evidence of the world women have lived in for so long - and which, though improved, still rears its ugly head.

"He who has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much; who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men, and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth's beauty or failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory is a benediction."

Oft attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson or Robert Louis Stevenson, the above was written by Bessie A. Stanley of Lincoln, Kansas, in 1905. She earned $250 as the first-prize winner in a contest sponsored by the magazine Modern Women.


"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Usually attributed to Voltaire. The real author: Evelyn Beatrice Hall (1868-1919), the English author of The Friends of Voltaire (published 1906).
"Iron Curtain"

Used by Winston Churchill in 1946 to describe the divide between the USSR & the West, it was coined by Ethel Snowden (1881-1951), an English suffragette, in her 1920 book Through Bolshevik Russia. "We were behind the 'iron curtain' at last!"


"The only difference between the rich and other people is that the rich have more money."

Ernest Hemingway attributes this quote to Scott Fitzgerald , but it actually comes from a remark made to Hemingway by Mary Colum (1884-1957) at a lunch in 1936.

"Now I know why nobody ever comes here; it's too crowded."

Often attributed to Yogi Berra, the quote comes from a Montana newspaper in 1941, which attributes it to a "flutterbrained cutie named Suzanne Ridgeway."


"We will overcome."

This anthem of the Civil Rights movement, long associated with Pete Seeger, was first used in 1946 in a strike against the American Tobacco Company, where Lucille Simmons created and sang it on the picket line. Seeger's only change, years later, was altering "will" to "shall."

"Just say the lines and don't trip over the furniture."

Usually attributed to Noel Coward in his play, Nude with Violin (1956-58). But it is listed in a "Best Quote" book as originating with actress Lynn Fontanne (1887-1983) in 1954, when she said: "We move about the stage without bumping into the furniture or each other."

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us."

Frequently attributed to Nelson Mandela, these words first appear in the book A Return to Love (1992) by Marianne Williamson (1952-).

"Does it really matter what these affectionate people do—so long as they don't
do it in the streets and frighten the horses!"

Oft attributed to King Edward VII or an 18th c. general, the words are most likely by the actress Beatrice Stella Tanner Campbell (1865-1940), allegedly her response when told about an actor being enamored of a young leading man.


"If you make it here, you make it everywhere." (later incorporated into "New York, New York") & "That does not compute."

 Julie Newmar, 1959 & Julie Newmar, 1964

"No time like the present."

 English novelist & playwright, Mary de la Rivière Manley (1663-1724)

"No man is a hero to his valet."

Anne-Marie Bigo de Corneul (1614-1694), hostess of a Parisian salon and much-cited wit

"Twinkle, twinkle, little star . . ." 

From Rhymes for the Nursery by Ann Taylor (1782-1866) & Jane Taylor (1783-1824)

"Mary had a little lamb . . ." 

Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879), one of the first major U.S. female writers

"Laugh and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone."

The American, Alla Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919), in her 1883 poem, "Solitude."

"E.T. phone home." 

Written by screenwriter Melisssa Mathieson (b. 1950) for the film, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.
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  1. Are you talking about that cute little hamster between the giraffe and the puppy with the "Love You" heart?
    Interesting information,Grace.


  2. Yes, Qwillia, that's Harry. He belongs to my oldest granddaughter, Hailey, and her Mom staged the photo, which I "borrowed" for my blog.

  3. I forget that some people who read my blog are too young to recall E.T., but that was a famous scene when the real extraterrestrial hid in plain sight among the stuffed animals in the little girl's closet.

  4. Thanks, Grace. My mother always quoted the "laugh and the world laughs with you..." quote. I often wondered whose quote it was, and now the mystery is solved.

  5. And so often men are portrayed as if they can't have an intelligent conversation and are incapable of saying more than three words. I've seen the Woolf comment before and it always makes me chuckle.

    Ben Franklin employed women who wrote for his newspaper under masculine names and men who wrote using feminine names because people expected one be male or female depending on the subject.

    It's an interesting study. Thanks for the blog.

  6. Thanks for this! I enjoyed learning about the women behind the quotes.

  7. I don't know whether to be amazed or angry. I think I'll try amazed!