Gelett Burgess

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Burgess circa 1910

Frank Gelett Burgess (January 30, 1866September 18, 1951) was an American artist, art critic, poet, author and humourist. He is credited with coining the word blurb, a short promotional statement about a piece of creative work, and bromide, a trite or unoriginal phrase intended to soothe or placate, or the boring person who utters those phrases.


  • To appreciate nonsense requires a serious interest in life.
    • From the essay The Sense of Humor first published in The Romance of the Commonplace (1902).
  • there are no roads in all Bohemia !
  • A woman and a mouse, they carry a tale wherever they go.
    • Gelett Burgess, The Maxims of Methuselah (1907).
The Purple Cow
Publicity for 1909 Burgess book, expanding his 1906 essay of the same name

The Purple Cow (1895)

  • I never saw a purple cow,
    I never hope to see one;
    But I can tell you, anyhow,
    I'd rather see than be one!

Confession (1897)

  • Ah, yes, I wrote the "Purple Cow"—
    I'm Sorry, now, I wrote it;
    But I can tell you Anyhow
    I'll Kill you if you Quote it!
    • Poem Confession: and a Portrait Too, Upon a Background that I Rue (1897)
    • Reacting to the many parodies of his poem.

Are You A Bromide? (1906)

  • I don't know much about Art, but I know what I like. (p. 24)
  • She doesn't look a day over fifty. (p. 24)
  • You'll feel differently about these things when you're married. (p. 25)
  • It isn't so much the heat... as the humidity. (p. 28)
  • You're a sight for sore eyes. (p. 29)
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