Christopher Morley

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Happiness is surely the best teacher of good manners: only the unhappy are churlish in deportment.

Christopher Morley (5 May 1890 - 28 March 1957) was an American journalist, novelist, poet, and playwright.


  • "Lord!" he said, "when you sell a man a book you don't sell him just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue — you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night — there's all heaven and earth in a book, a real book I mean. Jiminy! If I were the baker or the butcher or the broom huckster, people would run to the gate when I came by — just waiting for my stuff. And here I go loaded with everlasting salvation — yes, ma'am, salvation for their little, stunted minds — and it's hard to make 'em see it. That's what makes it worth while — I'm doing something that nobody else from Nazareth, Maine, to Walla Walla, Washington, has ever thought of. It's a new field, but by the bones of Whitman, it's worth while. That's what this country needs — more books!"
    • Parnassus on Wheels (1917)
  • It's a good thing to turn your mind upside down now and then, like an hour-glass, to let the particles run the other way.
    • The Haunted Bookshop (1919)
  • Printer's ink has been running a race against gunpowder these many, many years. Ink is handicapped, in a way, because you can blow up a man with gunpowder in half a second, while it may take twenty years to blow him up with a book. But the gunpowder destroys itself along with its victim, while a book can keep on exploding for centuries.
    • The Haunted Bookshop (1919)
  • The most interesting persons are always those who have nothing special to do: children, nurses, policemen and actors at 11 o'clock in the morning.
    • Travels in Philadelphia (1920)
  • Philadelphia was the first city to foresee the advantages of a Federal constitution and oatmeal as a breakfast food.
    • Travels in Philadelphia (1920)
  • We visit bookshops not so often to buy any one special book, but rather to rediscover, in the happier and more expressive words of others, our own encumbered soul.
  • Happiness is surely the best teacher of good manners: only the unhappy are churlish in deportment.
    • Where the Blue Begins (1922)
  • There is only one success … to be able to spend your life in your own way.
    • Where the Blue Begins (1922)
  • Why do they put the Gideon Bibles only in the bedrooms, where it's usually too late, and not in the barroom downstairs?
    • "Contribution to a Contribution" as quoted in The Twin Bedside Anthology (1946) by Charles Lee, p. 183

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