Everybody knows who, say, George Bernard Shaw was. And it’s not likely anyone’s going to question which “Abraham Lincoln” to whom to attribute an Abraham Lincoln quote.
But then you get someone like “Gil Atkinson.” There are a ton of Gil Atkinson quotes on the net. But who is Gil Atkinson. Ah … there’s the rub.
Ninety-nine percent of the quotes in Google have nothing other than the name. A very few identify him as an inventor and businessman (1827-1905) of that name, who invented the automatic sprinkler. There are also a couple of cases where the quotes are attributed to an American historian by that name.
Problem is, the quotes themselves are all over the map. A couple sound plausible from an historian. A couple of others from an inventor (though few of those sound appropriate for someone writing at the turn of the 20th Century). Most of them sound like a (rather trite) motivational speaker or sales consultant (and are quoted most enthusiastically by those same sorts). But there are no Gil Atkinson websites, no “live” comments by him anywhere on the web (by that name), and no books at Amazon by him.
And none of the sources touting they know “who” Gil Atkinson is are reliable enough for me to just take their word — and assume they didn’t just plug in a description from elsewhere.
So, who was Gil Atkinson? Or who are they? Are we talking about multiple folk by that name, of different professions, and how, without actually finding the source of some of these quotes can one really, actually tell?
My conclusion — though I originally had my (one) Gil quote attributed to a contemporary historian, I’m going to backtrack on that, and just leave the name as a contemporary (based on the vocabulary and syntax of the quotes). Which really irks me, but what can you do?
Anyone with any citeable insight into this is more than welcome to chime in.