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Who said, ‘The book to read is not the one that thinks for you but the one which makes you think’?

The curious origin of a famous quotation

‘The book to read is not the one that thinks for you but the one which makes you think’ is a quotation that is often attributed to Harper Lee, the author of the seminal work of twentieth-century American literature, To Kill a Mockingbird. But did Harper Lee originate this quotation?

Numerous websites give the credit to Harper Lee, it’s true. (See, for instance, these pages on Goodreads and Bustle, and this book.) It’s been shared numerous times on social media with Lee’s name attached to it. But it doesn’t feature in her Wikiquote page, and cannot be traced to any known interview she gave, nor to either of the two novels published in her lifetime, To Kill a Mockingbird or Go Set a Watchman. Did Lee actually say it? Read the rest of this entry

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10 Great Christopher Hitchens Quotes on Literature and Writing

The finest sourced quotes from Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) was one of the most popular – and divisive – writers of his day. Born in England, he moved to the United States in his early thirties, and lived in Washington D. C. for the rest of his life. He is often celebrated for his witty one-liners and bon mots, so here we’ve gathered together ten of his best quotations about literature, being a writer, and related subjects.

If you’re a self-employed writer, there’s a tendency always to feel guilty any time you’re not working. – ‘In Depth with Christopher Hitchens’, C-SPAN, 2007

I became a journalist partly so that I wouldn’t ever have to rely on the press for my information. – Hitch-22: A Memoir Read the rest of this entry

Who Said, ‘I am not young enough to know everything’?

The origins of a famous quip – in a half-forgotten work of literature

This should be an easy question. Surely it was Oscar Wilde who first said, ‘I am not young enough to know everything’? It certainly sounds like one of Wilde’s witty quotations, and numerous quotation sites (see, for instance, here and here) attribute the line to Wilde, but the attribution predates the web, with James Scott’s Daily Writing Journal in 1987 giving Wilde as the author. But it appears the issue is a little more complicated than that. And the true origins of this quotation lie in a play by a writer best-known for a work of children’s literature. Read the rest of this entry