George Borrow

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George Borrow in 1843

George Henry Borrow (July 5 1803July 26 1881) was an eccentric English travel-writer, novelist, memoirist and translator, known especially for his sympathetic portrayal of his friends among the Romany people.


  • The author of Amelia, the most singular genius which their island ever produced, whose works it has long been the fashion to abuse in public and to read in secret.
  • There is a peculiarity in the countenance, as everybody knows, which, though it cannot be described, is sure to betray the Englishman.
    • The Bible in Spain, ch. 2.
  • Sherry...a silly, sickly compound, the use of which will transform a nation, however bold and warlike by nature, into a race of sketchers, scribblers, and punsters, in fact into what Englishmen are at the present day.

Lavengro (1851)

  • There are no countries in the world less known by the British than these selfsame British Islands, or where more strange things are every day occurring.
    • Preface
  • Smoking has a sedative effect upon the nerves, and enables a man to bear the sorrows of this life (of which every one has his share) not only decently, but dignifiedly.
    • Ch. 23
  • If you must commit suicide – and there is no knowing to what people may be brought – always contrive to do it as decorously as possible; the decencies, whether of life or of death, should never be lost sight of.
    • Ch. 23
  • I have always been a friend to hero-worship; it is the only rational one, and has always been in use amongst civilized people.
    • Ch. 23
  • There's night and day, brother, both sweet things; sun, moon, and stars, brother, all sweet things; there's likewise a wind on the heath. Life is very sweet, brother; who would wish to die?
    • Ch. 25
  • There's the wind on the heath, brother; if I could only feel that, I would gladly live for ever.
    • Ch. 25
  • He is not deserving of the name of Englishman who speaketh against ale, that is, good ale.
    • Ch. 68
  • I often think I should like to have another rally—one more rally, and then—but there’s a time for all things—youth will be served, every dog has his day, and mine has been a fine one—let me be content.
    • Ch. 92
  • Fear God, and take your own part.
    • The Romany Rye, chap. 16
  • I never saw such a place for merched anllad [wanton women] as Northampton.
    • Wild Wales, chap. 34
  • 'Scotland! a queer country that, your honour!' 'So it is,' said I; 'a queerer country I never saw in all my life.' 'And a queer set of people, your honour,' 'So they are,' said I; 'a queerer set of people than the Scotch you would scarcely seen in a summer's day.'
    • Wild Wales, chap. 83
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