From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Authors are persons who originate or give existence to anything, said authorship determining responsibility for what is created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.


  • Writers collect things. We read magazines, we ride buses and eavesdrop on other people's conversations, we stop and read posters on telephone poles, we examine soup cans and old clothing stores and babies and pets and sewer covers and weather reports. We delve into ancient history, old gossip, rumors, hints of rumors, maps, brochures, irrelevant details, bad advice, good omens, lucky stars, and things that are nobody's business. In short, we are called to be witnesses. Things may happen, but unless someone takes note of it, it might not matter.
    • Kathleen Alcalá "The Madonna in Cyberspace" (2000) in The Desert Remembers My Name: On Family and Writing (2007)
  • “But you really are, you know.” This was said with intense earnestness. “I mean good, really good. I think it is wonderful to be an author like you. It must be almost like being God.”
    Graham stared blankly. “Not to editors, sister.”
    Sister didn’t get the whisper. She continued, “To be able to create living characters out of nothing; to unfold souls to all the world; to put thoughts into words; to build pictures and create worlds. I have often thought that an author was the most gloriously gifted person in all creation. Better an inspired author starving in a garret than a king upon his throne. Don’t you think so?”
    “Definitely,” lied Graham.
    • Isaac Asimov, Author! Author! (1964; originally published in The Unknown Five)
  • Write to the mind and heart, and let the ear
    Glean after what it can.'TV.
  • There is probably no hell for authors in the next world — they suffer so much from critics and publishers in this.
  • And force them, though it was in spite
    Of Nature and their stars, to write.
  • But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
    Falling, like dew, upon a thought produces
    That which makes thousands, perhaps millions think.
  • But every fool describes, in these bright days,
    His wondrous journey to some foreign court,
    And spawns his quarto, and demands your praise,—
    Death to his publisher, to him 'tis sport.
  • And hold up to the sun my little taper.
  • An author in his book must be like God in the universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere. (9 December 1852)
  • I like the idea of a literary patchwork, novel by novel, poem by poem, by different writers, mapping out an era, 'a continent' more and more thoroughly. No one writer can do it.
    • 1979 interview included in Conversations with Nadine Gordimer edited by Nancy Topping Bazin and Marilyn Dallman Seymour (1990)
  • There is no way that writers can be tamed and rendered civilized. Or even cured.
  • But I did not explain to you the other insidious aspect of writing. There is no way to stop. Writers go on writing long after it becomes financially unnecessary...because it hurts less to write than it does not to write.
  • Sumite materiam vestris, qui scribitis, sequam Viribus.
    • Ye who write, choose a subject suited to your abilities.
    • Horace, Ars Poetica (18 BC), 38.
  • Tantum series juncturaque pollet.
    • Of so much force are system and connection.
    • Horace, Ars Poetica (18 BC), 242.
  • Scribendi recte sapere est et principium et fons.
    • Knowledge is the foundation and source of good writing.
    • Horace, Ars Poetica (18 BC), 309.
  • Nonumque prematur in annum.
    • Let it (what you have written) be kept back until the ninth year.
    • Horace, Ars Poetica (18 BC), 388.
  • There are two things which I am confident I can do very well; one is an introduction to any literary work, stating what it is to contain, and how it should be executed in the most perfect manner.
  • A man may write at any time if he set himself doggedly to it.
  • Later on in life you will learn that writers are merely open, helpless texts with no real understanding of what they have written and therefore must half-believe anything and everything that is said of them. You, however, have not yet reached this stage of literary criticism.
    • {{w:Lonnie Moore}}, "How to Become a Writer" (1982).
  • It is the rust we value, not the gold;
    Authors, like coins, grow dear, as they grow old.
    • Alexander Pope, Satires, Epistles, and Odes of Horace, Second Book of Horace, Epigram I, line 35.
  • I would not be like those Authors, who forgive themselves some particular lines for the sake of a whole Poem, and vice versa a whole Poem for the sake of some particular lines. I believe no one qualification is so likely to make a good writer, as the power of rejecting his own thoughts.
  • "Tis hard to say if greater want of skill
    Appear in writing or in judging ill;
    But, of the two less dang'rous is th' offence
    To tire our patience than mislead our sense.
  • True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
    As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance.
  • I hold to my old romantic belief that writers of all times and places belong to a noble fellowship; that although they are the voices of their own cultures and languages, they transcend these boundaries.
  • what is writing if not a form of confession in disguise? No matter what the subject, all literary roads lead back to the self. The writer descends like a miner into the deepest shafts of her soul in order to unearth the blackest coals of her torment, or to retrieve the most glittering diamonds of her memories, and bring them back to the surface in the form of fictions that she wishes to share with the world.
    • Chava Rosenfarb "Confessions of a Yiddish Writer" (1973) in "Confessions of a Yiddish Writer and Other Essays" (2019) translated from the Yiddish with Goldie Morgentaler
  • In an age when many people lived on less than two dollars a day, his income rose to as much as a hundred thousand dollars a year. He was the highest paid writer in America, and it was widely reported that his magazine contributions could earn a dollar a word. In fact, his last contract with Harper & Brothers guaranteed him only a third of that, but it was still a better deal than anyone else could have expected, and he always insisted on a strict word count from his editors, even going so far as to demand that hyphenated words be counted as two. Legend has it that when an admirer enclosed a dollar with a request for his autograph, he replied not with his signature but with the single word "Thanks," in accordance with his rumored rate.
  • Reviewers, with some rare exceptions, are a most stupid and malignant race. As a bankrupt thief turns thief-taker in despair, so an unsuccessful author turns critic.
  • Authors—essayist, atheist, novelist, realist, rhymester, play your part,
    Paint the mortal shame of nature with the living hues of art.
  • In every author let us distinguish the man from his works.
    • Voltaire, Dictionnaire philosophique portatif ("A Philosophical Dictionary") (1764), Poets.
  • I agree with Stalin and Hitler and Mussolini that the writer should serve his society. I differ with dictators as to how writers should serve.
  • Ideas are free. But while the author confines them to his study, they are like birds in a cage, which none but he can have a right to let fly : for till he thinks proper to emancipate them, they are under his own dominion.
    • Joseph Yates, J., dissenting, 4 Burr. Part IV., p. 2,379; Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 17.
  • The invention of an author is a species of property unknown to the common law of England. Its usages are immemorial; and the views of it tend to the benefit and advantage of the public with respect to the necessaries of life, and not to the improvement and graces of mind.
    • Joseph Yates, J., dissenting, 4 Burr. Part IV., p. 2,387; Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 107.
  • Some write, confin'd by physic; some, by debt;
    Some, for 'tis Sunday; some, because 'tis wet;
    Another writes because his father writ,
    And proves himself a bastard by his wit.
    • Edward Young, Epistles to Mr. Pope (1830), Epistle I, line 75.
  • An author! 'tis a venerable name!
    How few deserve it, and what numbers claim!
    Unbless'd with sense above their peers refined,
    Who shall stand up dictators to mankind?
    Nay, who dare shine, if not in virtue's cause?
    That sole proprietor of just applause.
    • Edward Young, Epistles to Mr. Pope (1830), Epistle II. From Oxford, line 15.
  • For who can write so fast as men run mad?
  • Some future strain, in which the muse shall tell
    How science dwindles, and how volumes swell.
    How commentators each dark passage shun,
    And hold their farthing candle to the sun.
  • And then, exulting in their taper, cry, "Behold the Sun;" and, Indian-like, adore.
Quotes reported in the famous copyright case Millar v Taylor (1769), 4 Burr. 2303, 98 ER 201; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904).
  • It is certainly not agreeable to natural justice that a stranger should reap the beneficial pecuniary produce of another man's work.
    • Willes, J., concurring, 4 Burr. Part IV., p. 2,334, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 17.
  • A writer's fame will not be the less, that he has bread, without being under the necessity of prostituting his pen to flattery or party, to get it.
    • Willes, J., concurring, 4 Burr. Part IV., p. 2,335; Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 162.
  • He who engages in a laborious work (such, for instance, as Johnson's Dictionary) which may employ his whole life, will do it with more spirit if, besides his own Glory, he thinks it may be a provision for his family.
    • Willes, J., concurring, 4 Burr. Part IV., p. 2,335; Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 163.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922)


Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 47-51.

  • The circumstance which gives authors an advantage above all these great masters, is this, that they can multiply their originals; or rather, can make copies of their works, to what number they please, which shall be as valuable as the originals themselves.
  • Indeed, unless a man can link his written thoughts with the everlasting wants of men, so that they shall draw from them as from wells, there is no more immortality to the thoughts and feelings of the soul than to the muscles and the bones.
  • A man of moderate Understanding, thinks he writes divinely: A man of good Understanding, thinks he writes reasonably.
    • La Bruyère, The Characters or Manners of the Present Age. Ch. I.
  • A man starts upon a sudden, takes Pen, Ink, and Paper, and without ever having had a thought of it before, resolves within himself he will write a Book; he has no Talent at Writing, but he wants fifty Guineas.
    • La Bruyère, The Characters or Manners of the Present Age (1688), Chapter XV.
  • And so I penned
    It down, until at last it came to be,
    For length and breadth, the bigness which you see.
  • Writers, especially when they act in a body and with one direction, have great influence on the public mind.
  • The book that he has made renders its author this service in return, that so long as the book survives, its author remains immortal and cannot die.
  • Dear authors! suit your topics to your strength,
    And ponder well your subject, and its length;
    Nor lift your load, before you're quite aware
    What weight your shoulders will, or will not, bear.
  • La pluma es lengua del alma.
  • That writer does the most, who gives his reader the most knowledge, and takes from him the least time.
  • Habits of close attention, thinking heads,
    Become more rare as dissipation spreads,
    Till authors hear at length one general cry
    Tickle and entertain us, or we die!
  • None but an author knows an author's cares,
    Or Fancy's fondness for the child she bears.
  • So that the jest is clearly to be seen,
    Not in the words— but in the gap between;
    Manner is all in all, whate'er is writ,
    The substitute for genius, sense, and wit.
  • Oh! rather give me commentators plain,
    Who with no deep researches vex the brain;
    Who from the dark and doubtful love to run,
    And hold their glimmering tapers to the sun.
  • "Gracious heavens!" he cries out, leaping up and catching hold of his hair, "what's this? Print!"
  • And choose an author as you choose a friend.
  • The men, who labour and digest things most,
    Will be much apter to despond than boast;
    For if your author be profoundly good,
    'Twill cost you dear before he's understood.
  • When I want to read a book I write one.
  • The author who speaks about his own books is almost as bad as a mother who talks about her own children.
  • The unhappy man, who once has trail'd a pen,
    Lives not to please himself, but other men;
    Is always drudging, wastes his life and blood,
    Yet only eats and drinks what you think good.
  • All writing comes by the grace of God, and all doing and having.
  • For no man can write anything who does not think that what he writes is, for the time, the history of the world.
  • The writer, like a priest, must be exempted from secular labor. His work needs a frolic health; he must be at the top of his condition.
  • Like his that lights a candle to the sun.
  • Les sots font le texte, et les hommes d'esprit les commentaires.
    • Fools make the text, and men of wit the commentaries.
    • Abbe Galiani, Of Politics.
  • Envy's a sharper spur than pay:
    No author ever spar'd a brother;
    Wits are gamecocks to one another.
    • John Gay, The Elephant and the Bookseller, line 74.
  • The most original modern authors are not so because they advance what is new, but simply because they know how to put what they have to say, as if it had never been said before.
  • One writer, for instance, excels at a plan, or a title-page, another works away the body of the book, and a third is a dab at an index.
  • "The Republic of Letters" is a very common expression among the Europeans.
  • Their name, their years, spelt by the unlettered Muse.
  • His [Burke's] imperial fancy has laid all nature under tribute, and has collected riches from every scene of the creation and every walk of art.
    • Robert Hall, Apology for the Freedom of the Press, Section IV.
  • Whatever an author puts between the two covers of his book is public property; whatever of himself he does not put there is his private property, as much as if he had never written a word.
  • But every little busy scribbler now
    Swells with the praises which he gives himself;
    And, taking sanctuary in the crowd,
    Brags of his impudence, and scorns to mend.
    • Horace, Of the Art of Poetry. 475. Wentworth Dillon's translation.
  • Deferar in vicum vendentem thus et odores,
    Et piper, et quicquid chartis amicitur ineptis.
    • I (i.e. my writings) shall be consigned to that part of the town where they sell incense, and scents, and pepper, and whatever is wrapped up in worthless paper.
    • Horace, Epistles, Bk.n. I. 269.
  • Piger scribendi ferre laborem;
    Scribendi recte, nam ut multum nil moror.
    • Too indolent to bear the toil of writing;
      I mean of writing well; I say nothing about quantity.
    • Horace, Satires, I. 4. 12.
  • Saepe stilum vertas, iterum quae digna legi sint Scripturus.
    • Often turn the stile [correct with care], if you expect to write anything worthy of being read twice.
    • Horace, Satires, I. 10. 72.
  • Written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond.
    • Jeremiah, XVII. 1.
  • He [Milton] was a Phidias that could cut a Colossus out of a rock, but could not cut heads out of cherry stones.
  • Each change of many-coloured life he drew,
    Exhausted worlds and then imagined new*
    Existence saw him spurn her bounded reign,
    And panting Time toil'd after him in vain.
  • The chief' glory of every people arises from its authors.
  • Tenet insanabile multo
    Scribendi cacoethes, et asgro in corde senescit.
    • An incurable itch for scribbling takes possession of many, and grows inveterate in their insane breasts.
    • Juvenal, Satires (early 2nd century), VII. 51.
  • Damn the age; I will write for Antiquity.
    • Charles Lamb, Bon Mots by Charles Lamb and Douglas Jerrold, Ed. by Walter Jerrold.
  • To write much, and to write rapidly, are empty boasts. The world desires to know what you have done, and not how you did it.
  • Whatever hath been written shall remain,
    Nor be erased nor written o'er again;
    The unwritten only still belongs to thee*
    Take heed, and ponder well what that shall be.
  • It may be glorious to write
    Thoughts that shall glad the two or three
    High souls, like those far stars that come in sight
    Once in a century.
  • He that commeth in print because he woulde be knowen, is like the foole that commeth into the Market because he woulde be seen.
    • Lily, Euphues, The Anatomy of Wit, To the Gentlemen Headers.
  • He who writes prose builds his temple to
    Fame in rubble; he who writes verses builds it in granite.
  • No author ever drew a character, consistent to human nature, but what he was forced to ascribe to it many inconsistencies.
  • You do not publish your own verses, Laelius; you criticise mine. Pray cease to criticise mine, or else publish your own.
    • Martial, Epigrams (c. 80-104 AD), Book I, Epigram 91.
  • Jack writes severe lampoons on me, 'tis said—But he writes nothing, who is never read.
    • Martial, Epigrams (c. 80-104 AD), Book IH, Epigram 9.
  • He who writes distichs, wishes, I suppose, to please by brevity. But, tell me, of what avail is their brevity, when there is a whole book full of them?
    • Martial, -Epigrams, Book VHI, Epigram 29.
  • The ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr.
    • Mohammed—Tribute to Reason.
  • To write upon all is an author's sole chance
    For attaining, at last, the least knowledge of any.
    • Thomas Moore, Humorous and Satirical Poems, Literary Advertisement.
  • Prsebet mihi littera linguam:
    Et, si non liceat scribere, mutus ero.
    • This letter gives me a tongue; and were I not allowed to write, I should be dumb.
    • Ovid, Epistole Ex Ponto, II. 6. 3.
  • Scriptaferuntannos; scriptis Agamemnona nosti,
    Et quisquis contra vel simul arma tulit.
    • Writings survive the years; it is by writings that you know Agamemnon, and those who fought for or against him.
    • Ovid, Epistole Ex Ponto, IV. 8. 51.
  • Why did I write? what sin to me unknown
    Dipt me in ink, my parents', or my own?
    As yet a child, nor yet a fool to fame,
    I lisp'd in numbers, for the numbers came.
  • E'en copious Dryden wanted, or forgot,
    The last and greatest art—the art to blot.
  • Whether the darken'd room to muse invite,
    Or whiten'd wall provoke the skew'r to write;
    In durance, exile, Bedlam, or the Mint,
    Like Lee or Budgel I will rhyme and print.
  • Let him be kept from paper, pen, and ink;
    So may he cease to write, and learn to think.
  • 'Tis not how well an author says,
    But 'tis how much, that gathers praise.
  • As though I lived to write, and wrote to live.
  • Lis ont les textes pour eux, mais j'en suis fache pour les textes.
    • They have the texts on their side, but I pity the texts.
    • Royer-Collard, against the opinions of the Jansenists of Port-Royal on Grace. "So much the worse for the texts." Phrase attributed to Voltaire.
  • Of all those arts in which the wise excel,
    Nature's chief masterpiece is writing well.
    • John Sheffield (Duke of Buckingham), Essay on Poetry.
  • Look in thy heart and write.
  • The great and good do not die even in this world. Embalmed in books, their spirits walk abroad. The book is a living voice. It is an intellect to which one still listens.
  • Ah, ye knights of the pen! May honour be your shield, and truth tip your lances ! Be gentle to all gentle people. Be modest to women. Be tender to children. And as for the Ogre Humbug, out sword, and have at him!
  • What the devil does the plot signify, except to bring in fine things?
  • But you're our particular author, you're our patriot and our friend,
    You're the poet of the cuss-word an' the swear.
  • So must the writer, whose productions should
    Take with the vulgar, be of vulgar mould.
  • Smooth verse, inspired by no unlettered Muse.

See also

Wikipedia has an article about: