(And why the heck do I say “whence”?)
I’ve been collecting quotes for years. Here are some good places I’ve found for the budding (or wilting) researcher.
Books of quotations: Yeah, I actually read these things. Scary, isn’t it? Bartlett’s is the classic here, but Bergen Evans’ Dictionary of Quotations (which I borrowed in college from my friend, Dave Sutherland, and took to like a crack addict) is an even better source. One of these days I’ll list my quotation books more thoroughly.
Internet mailing lists: There are dozens of Internet mailing lists which will shoot you one or more quotes a day. I used to have an extensivel list here of ones that I subscribed to, but I realized that (a) I really was getting way too much e-mail, and (b) I was getting way too many repeats. Do some Googling on “quotation mailing list” and similar bits, or search in various mailing list directories (e.g., Yahoo).
Quote-a-day calendars: I always try to get at least one per year. Now you know what to get me for Christmas. This sometimes distorts my statistics, but, what the heck, it’s good fodder.
Internet research: Just do a search on “quotes” and “quotations” and stand back. A lot of places are pretty awful, but there are some real gems out there. I’d recommend the Bartleby.com quotations page. This has the (searchable) contents of the 1919 Bartlett’s, the 1996 Columbia World of Quotations, and the 1998 Simpson’s Contemporary Quotations, making up some 86k quotes all told. The citations are pretty good, too.
Another good site is Xrefer, though much of its content is no longer free.
Sometimes, especially with contemporary or “gaffe” quotes, verifying them is also important. The Urban Legends Reference Pages does some good debunking here.
Reading: I read a lot. A lot. If I run across something that looks worth quoting, I quote it. That leads to some authors being quoted in WIST who aren’t found in many other places. Just doing my part to add to the primary material out there.
- WIST is my personal collection of quotations, curated for thought, amusement, turn of phrase, historical significance, or sometimes just (often-unintentional) irony.
Please feel free to browse and borrow.
- 17,650 quotes and counting ...
Topic Cloudaction age America author beauty belief change character courage death education ego error evil faith fear freedom future God government happiness history humanity integrity leadership liberty life love morality perspective politics poverty power progress religion science society success truth tyranny virtue war wealth wisdom writing
- I've been adding topics/tags since 2014, so not all quotes have been given one. Full topic list.
- * Visual quotes (graphics, memes) only
- “Wealth and Poverty,” speech, National… (7,243)
- “The Lesson for Today,” A Witness Tree (1942) (5,862)
- Agamemnon, ll. 175-183 [tr. Johnston (2007)] (5,855)
- “The Triumph of Stupidity” (10 May 1933) (4,963)
- Nobel prize acceptance speech (10 Dec 1962) (4,876)
- “On The Conduct of Life” (1822) (3,975)
- “In Search of a Majority,” Speech,… (3,846)
- “Get a Knife, Get a Dog, but Get Rid of… (3,711)
- “A Cult of Ignorance,” Newsweek (21 Jan 1980) (3,181)
- “The Historian as Participant,” Daedalus… (3,178)
Most Quoted Authors
Author CloudAdams, John • Bacon, Francis • Bible • Bierce, Ambrose • Billings, Josh • Butcher, Jim • Chesterton, Gilbert Keith • Churchill, Winston • Einstein, Albert • Eisenhower, Dwight David • Emerson, Ralph Waldo • Franklin, Benjamin • Fuller, Thomas (1654) • Gaiman, Neil • Galbraith, John Kenneth • Gandhi, Mohandas • Goethe, Johann von • Hazlitt, William • Heinlein, Robert A. • Hoffer, Eric • Huxley, Aldous • Ingersoll, Robert Green • James, William • Jefferson, Thomas • Johnson, Lyndon • Johnson, Samuel • Kennedy, John F. • King, Martin Luther • La Rochefoucauld, Francois • Lewis, C.S. • Lincoln, Abraham • Mencken, H.L. • Orwell, George • Pratchett, Terry • Roosevelt, Eleanor • Roosevelt, Theodore • Russell, Bertrand • Seneca the Younger • Shakespeare, William • Shaw, George Bernard • Stevenson, Adlai • Stevenson, Robert Louis • Twain, Mark • Watterson, Bill • Wilde, Oscar
- Only the 45 most quoted authors are shown above. Full author list.
- 20-Oct-20 - Members of a whole – ICMDA Blogs on Poem on Humanity.
- 19-Oct-20 - Dave on (Attributed).
- 19-Oct-20 - Dave on (Attributed).
- 19-Oct-20 - Tim Mattock on (Attributed).
- 14-Oct-20 - How far can we deduce that the act of writing poetry was a self-harming manifestation of Sylvia Plath’s mental illness? – Maya Elphick on Problemata, 30.1.
- 6-Oct-20 - Equal Rites (1987) | WIST on “An Essay on Criticism,” Part 2, ll. 15-18 (1711).