Bartlett's Familiar Quotations


By John Bartlett

Edited by Geoffrey O’Brien

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From ancient Egypt to today, enjoy a sweeping survey of world history through its most memorable words in this completely revised and updated nineteenth edition.

More than 150 years after its initial publication, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations now enters its nineteenth edi­tion. First compiled by John Bartlett, a bookseller in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as a commonplace book of only 258 pages, the original 1855 edition mainly featured selections from the Bible, Shakespeare, and the great English poets. Today, Bartlett’s includes more than 20,000 quotes from roughly 4,000 con­tributors. Spanning centuries of thought and culture, it remains the finest and most popular compendium of quotations ever assembled.

While continuing to draw on timeless classi­cal references, this edition also incorporates more than 3,000 new quotes from more than 700 new sources, including Alison Bechdel, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Pope Francis, Atul Gawande, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Hilary Mantel, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Claudia Rankine, Fred Rogers, Bernie Sanders, Patti Smith, and Malala Yousafzai. Bartlett’s showcases the thoughts not only of renowned figures from the arts, literature, politics, science, sports, and business, but also of otherwise unknown individuals whose thought-provoking ideas have moved, unsettled, or inspired readers and listeners throughout the ages.

Bartlett’s makes searching for the perfect quote easy in three ways: alphabetically by author, chrono­logically by the author’s birth date, or thematically by subject. Whether one is searching for appropriate remarks for a celebration, comforting thoughts for a serious occasion, or simply to answer the question “Who said that?” Bartlett’s offers readers and schol­ars alike a stunning treasury of words that have influ­enced


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WHEN THE BOOKSELLER JOHN BARTLETT PUBLISHED HIS COLLECTION OF FAMILIAR QUOTATIONS IN 1855, IT WAS ALREADY THE CULMINATION OF A LONG PROCESS OF COMPILING AND SIFTING. An early reader with an extraordinarily retentive memory, Bartlett, born in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1820, had for years kept a commonplace book in which he noted those "passages, phrases, and proverbs" that he had a penchant for collecting. The privately printed 1855 edition was only 258 pages long; by the time of his death in 1905, he had overseen nine editions, and his commonplace book had taken its place as an indispensable reference.

Bartlett's original Familiar Quotations registered the essential influences of his culture: the Bible and Shakespeare above all, flanked by an array of chiefly British writers. Bartlett's range may have been narrow, but within it his tastes were solid, and his work has provided an unshakeable foundation for the extensive revisions and additions of the editors who have followed him. The apparent modesty of the sentence by Montaigne that Bartlett affixed to the title page of the seventh edition (1876)—"I have gathered a posie of other men's flowers, and nothing but the thread that binds them is mine own"—doubtless conceals pride in the characteristic aptness of the choice. The book as it evolved under his care became a sort of history of thought and expression, a way for a reader to sail rapidly over centuries and pass them in review. Bartlett knew that familiar is not a word that can be easily defined—"what is familiar to one class of readers may be quite new to another"—and acknowledged that "it has been thought better to incur the risk of erring on the side of fullness." In taking that risk he created not merely a reference work but a unique anthology, a book that can be read straight through, a graph of the thought of centuries spread out like an entrancing scroll.

John Bartlett's achievement was singular, and it has continued to inspire the editors who have followed him. Bartlett's Familiar Quotations has always been, and will remain, a work in progress. Such a book must change over time to reflect not only what has been newly written or said but to take note of how the past changes as well, always renewing itself as new readers and observers uncover fresh perspectives and areas of interest. It is not so much like walking through a museum of fixed exhibits as of tuning in to a millennia-old conversation and picking up, each time, slightly different clusters of fragments and piecing together a slightly different story. The voices resonating in that echo chamber are also talking to one another, and so Bartlett's is also a map of interconnections and variants. Quotations respond to quotations, to affirm them or turn them inside out or perhaps to drown them. One way or another, the conversation sustains itself over vast stretches of time—from the Sumerian Gilgamesh epic to the newly minted sound bites of the Internet era—even as it suffers interruption from the intrusions and catastrophes of history.

One thing that has changed significantly is the range of source materials on which Bartlett's draws. A work that was once dominated by scripture, classical literature, and poetry has opened itself to the multiple voices of mass journalism, recording, movies, radio and television broadcasting, and now the Internet. The digital era offers opportunities that are both exhilarating and overwhelming; we can see a phrase traveling from place to place virtually before our eyes, and we can get a quantitative sense of how widely and quickly it has traveled. Millions of words are captured that would once have disappeared into the wind. But the age of recording is also the age of ephemerality. The familiar quotations of last year are for the most part well on their way to oblivion. A new edition of Bartlett's must gamble on the newest utterances, but only a future editor will be in a position to measure how long-lasting any of them proves.

Many voices appear in Bartlett's for the first time in this eighteenth edition, some the expected brand-new ones—Barack Obama, Anne Carson, David Foster Wallace, Sonia Sotomayor, Steve Jobs, Sarah Palin, Warren Buffett, The Sopranos, South Park—and others from the recent and not-so-recent past whose phrases continue to pervade and sometimes transform the culture. As in any era, but now at a faster rate than ever, catchphrases from many different corners—whether "the anxiety of influence" or "wardrobe malfunction" or " the male gaze" or "the age of mechanical reproduction" or "gonzo journalism"—find their way into the main corridors of speech.

This edition expands its international coverage, incorporating important writers from Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and elsewhere, from Wang Wei and Ibn Khaldun to Wislawa Szymborska and Orhan Pamuk. It adds the words of over a hundred women. It offers a richer gathering of memorable verbal expression by artists of many kinds (painters, musicians, photographers, architects, filmmakers) and draws more heavily on novelists as varied as Dostoevsky and Elmore Leonard. It acknowledges that the words of songwriters—from Johnny Mercer, Willie Dixon, and Leonard Cohen to Madonna, Grandmaster Flash, and Kurt Cobain—have an unequaled reach and influence. But here will be found as well astronauts and entrepreneurs, athletes and physicists, rappers, federal judges, deconstructionists, and otherwise almost unknown figures who have given utterance to phrases that continue to make inroads as only the most eloquent or startling or suggestive or even unsettling quotations can.

I must gratefully acknowledge the suggestions of many consultants, friends, and colleagues whose guidance has been invaluable in the preparation of this edition. They include Tracy Behar, Susanna Brougham, Devin Dougherty, Evan Eisenberg, Peggy Freudenthal, Katherine Isaacs, Kent Jones, Cynthia Lindlof, Barbara Necol, Michael Neibergall, Heather O'Brien, Flaminia Ocampo, Janet Malcolm, Pamela Marshall, Jonathan Miller, Laura Miller, Albert Mobilio, Jed Perl, Robert Polito, Kathryn Rogers, Luc Sante, Harold Schechter, Jill Schoolman, and Drake Stutesman. I owe a special debt to James Gibbons, who participated extensively in every phase of this project, helping to enlarge its scope in many free-ranging discussions and enriching its contents by uncovering a wide array of memorable contributions.


New York, New York




AUTHORS APPEAR CHRONOLOGICALLY IN THE ORDER OF THEIR BIRTH DATES; AUTHORS BORN IN THE SAME YEAR ARE ARRANGED ALPHABETICALLY. The quotations for each author are generally in chronological order according to the date of publication (in some instances according to the date of composition). Poetry generally precedes prose for authors who wrote both.

Anonymous quotations are located as follows: early miscellaneous and Latin quotations are placed at about 670 C.E. General anonymous quotations begin immediately after the last dated author and are arranged in roughly chronological order (the precise dates of origin often being unknown). Specific groupings of anonymous quotations—African, Ballads, Cowboy Songs, and so on—follow the general Anonymous section in alphabetical order according to the heading.

A document without a specific author appears near the people with whom it is associated; for example, the Constitution of the United States (1787) appears among its creators, such as George Washington (born in 1732), John Adams (1735), James Madison (1751), and Alexander Hamilton (1755).

To find a particular author, consult the Index of Authors, here; to find a quotation by keyword(s), enter the keyword(s) in the search field. Use the arrows that are next to the search field to navigate to quotations containing the keyword(s).


Each quotation has a source line supplying title, date if known (most often that of publication), and other information the reader might find helpful. In the quotations from the Bible and from Shakespeare, the page headings provide blanket sources for the quotations on the particular page, while the source lines provide only chapter and verse or act, scene, and line references.


The footnotes supply information about a quotation, such as the original text of a translated quotation, the name of a translator, background comments for the quotation, and other quotations related in phrase or content to the footnoted quotation.


The Index of Authors provides birth and death dates for each author and links to one or more quotations by that author. When an author is better known by a name other than his or her given name, the author is listed under the more familiar name, with the given name provided in square brackets—for example, Bill [William Jefferson] Clinton. Bracketed parts of a name as listed in this index are those not used in the author's typical "signature"—for example, T[homas] S[tearns] Eliot. The Index of Authors also lists many pseudonyms, with cross-references from the less familiar name to the more familiar—for example, Karen Blixen is cross-referred to Isak Dinesen, the pseudonym under which she wrote. Authors who are quoted only in footnotes have their full names and birth and death dates given in the footnotes.

To find a particular book of the Bible, see the Bible entry, where the books are listed alphabetically. The same is true for Shakespeare; to find any work by Shakespeare, consult the Shakespeare entry. Anonymous quotations are listed under the heading "Anonymous," as well as by specific groupings, such as Ballads (Anonymous), Cowboy Songs (Anonymous), and so on.



Abbey, Edward, 1927–1989

Abbott, Bud [William], 1895–1974

Abdullah, Achmed, 1881–1945

Abelard, Peter, 1079–1142

Abu Muhammad al-Kasim al-Hariri. See Hariri

Abzug, Bella [Savitzky], 1920–1998

Accius, Lucius, 170–86 B.C.E.

Achebe, Chinua, 1930–2013

Acheson, Dean, 1893–1971

Ackerley, J[oseph] R[andolph], 1896–1967

Acton, John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, Lord, 1834–1902

Acuff, Roy, 1903–1992

Adair, Tom, 1913–1988

Adams, Abigail, 1744–1818

Adams, Charles Francis, 1807–1886

Adams, Douglas, 1952–2001

Adams, Franklin P[ierce] [F.P.A.], 1881–1960

Adams, Henry [Brooks], 1838–1918

Adams, James Truslow, 1878–1949

Adams, John, 1735–1826

Adams, John Quincy, 1767–1848

Adams, Lee, 1924–

Adams, Samuel, 1722–1803

Adams, Sarah Flower, 1805–1848

Addams, Charles, 1912–1988

Addams, Jane, 1860–1935

Addison, Joseph, 1672–1719

Ade, George, 1866–1944

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi, 1977–

Adler, Lou, 1933–

Adler, Renata, 1938–

Adler, [Pearl] Polly, 1900–1962

Adorno, Theodor W., 1903–1969

Ady, Thomas, fl. 1655

Aeschylus, 525–456 B.C.E.

Aesop, fl. c. 550 B.C.E.

African (Anonymous)

Agassiz, Jean Louis Rodolphe, 1807–1873

Agathon, c. 448–400 B.C.E.

Agee, James, 1909–1955

Agesilaus, 444–400 B.C.E.

Agis, 5th century B.C.E.

Agnew, Spiro T[heodore], 1918–1996

Aiken, Conrad, 1889–1973

Aiken, George, 1892–1984

Akhmatova, Anna [pseudonym of Anna Andreyevna Gorenko], 1889–1966

Alain. See Chartier, Émile Auguste

Alain de Lille [Alanus de Insulis], d. 1202

Albee, Edward F[rancis], 1857–1930

Albee, Edward [Franklin], 1928–

Alberti, Leon Battista, 1404–1472

Alcaeus, c. 625–c. 575 B.C.E.

Alcott, [Amos] Bronson, 1799–1888

Alcott, Louisa May, 1832–1888

Alcuin, c. 732–804

Aldrin, Buzz [Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Jr.], 1930–

Aldus Manutius. See Manutius

Alexander II, 1818–1881

Alexander the Great, 356–323 B.C.E.

Alexander, Cecil Frances, 1818–1895

Alexander, Elizabeth, 1962–

Alexie, Sherman, 1966–

Alfonso X [Alfonso the Wise], 1221–1284

Alford, Henry, 1810–1871

Algren, Nelson, 1909–1981

Ali, Muhammad [Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.], 1942–

Ali ibn-Abi-Talib, c. 602–661

Alighieri. Dante. See Dante Alighieri

Allan, Lewis [Abel Meeropol], 1903–1986

Allen, Ethan, 1738–1789

Allen, Fred [John Florence Sullivan], 1894–1956

Allen, William, 1803–1879

Allen, Woody [Allen Stuart Konigsberg], 1935–

Allingham, William, 1824–1889

Alpert, Herb, 1935–

Alvarez, A[l], 1929–

Amado, Jorge, 1912–2001

Ambler, Eric, 1909–1998

Ambrose, Saint, c. 340–397

Amenemope, c. 11th century B.C.E.

Améry, Jean [Hans Mayer], 1912–1978

Ames, Fisher, 1758–1808

Amichai, Yehuda, 1924–2000

Amiel, Henri-Frédéric, 1821–1881

Amis, Sir Kingsley, 1922–1995

Amis, Martin, 1949–

Ammons, A[rchie] R[andolph], 1926–2001

Anacharsis, fl. c. 600 B.C.E.

Anacreon, c. 570–c. 480 B.C.E.

Anaxagoras, c. 500–428 B.C.E.

Andersen, Hans Christian, 1805–1875

Anderson, Laurie, 1947–

Anderson, Chris, 1961–

Anderson, Maxwell, 1888–1959

Anderson, Paul Thomas, 1970–

Anderson, Robert, 1917–2009

Anderson, Sherwood, 1876–1941

Andreessen, Marc, 1971–

Angelou, Maya [Marguerite Johnson], 1928–2014

Anglund, Joan Walsh, 1926–

Anka, Paul, 1941–




Cowboy Songs

Early Miscellaneous



North American Indian

Nursery Rhymes





Anouilh, Jean, 1910–1987

Anselm, Saint, c. 1033–1109

Anthony, Susan B[rownell], 1820–1906

Antigonus, c. 382–301 B.C.E.

Antiphanes, c. 388–c. 311 B.C.E.

Antonioni, Michelangelo, 1912–2007

Apelles, fl. 325 B.C.E.

Apollinaire, Guillaume [Wilhelm Apollinaris de Kostrowitsky], 1880–1918

Appelfeld, Aharon, 1932–

Appiah, K[wame] Anthony, 1954–

Aquinas, Saint Thomas, c. 1225–1274

Aratus, c. 315–240 B.C.E.

Arbuckle, Roscoe "Fatty," 1887–1933

Arbus, Diane, 1923–1971

Archilochus, early 7th century B.C.E.

Archimedes, c. 287–212 B.C.E.

Arendt, Hannah, 1906–1975

Ariosto, Ludovico, 1474–1533

Aristophanes, c. 450–385 B.C.E.

Aristotle, 384–322 B.C.E.

Armour, Richard, 1906–1989

Armstrong, Louis [Satchmo], 1900–1971

Armstrong, Neil [Alden], 1930–2012

Arnaud-Amaury, d. 1225

Arno, Peter, 1904–1968

Arnold, Matthew, 1822–1888

Aron, Raymond, 1905–1983

Arouet, François Marie. See Voltaire

Artaud, Antonin, 1896–1948

Asaf, George [pseudonym of George H. Powell], 1880–1951

Ashbery, John, 1927–

Ashford, Daisy [Margaret Mary Norman], 1881–1972

Astor, Nancy [Witcher Langhorne], 1879–1964

Aten, The Great Hymn to the, c. 1350 B.C.E.

Atwood, Margaret, 1939–

Aubrey, John, 1626–1697

Auden, W[ystan] H[ugh], 1907–1973

Auerbach, Erich, 1892–1957

Augier, Émile, 1820–1889

Augustine, Saint, 354–430

Augustus Caesar, 63 B.C.E.–14 C.E.

Austen, Jane, 1775–1817

Auster, Paul, 1947–

Austin, J. L., 1911–1960

Averroës [Ibn Rushd], 1126–1198

Axelrod, George, 1922–2003

Ayckbourn, Alan, 1939–

Baba, Meher, 1894–1969

Babel, Isaac [Emmanuelovich], 1894–1941

Babeuf, François Noël [pseudonym: Gracchus], 1760–1797

Bachelard, Gaston, 1884–1962

Bacon, Francis, 1561–1626

Bacon, Roger, c. 1220–c. 1292

Baden-Powell, Robert, 1857–1941

Baer, Arthur [Bugs], 1897–1969

Bagehot, Walter, 1826–1877

Bailey, Liberty Hyde, 1858–1954

Baker, Howard H., Jr., 1925–

Baker, Nicholson, 1957–

Baker, Russell, 1925–

Bakhtin, Mikhail, 1895–1975

Bakunin, Mikhail, 1814–1876

Balanchine, George, 1904–1983

Balderston, John L., 1889–1954

Baldwin, James, 1924–1987

Baldwin, Stanley, 1867–1947

Balfour, Arthur James, 1848–1930

Ball, Hugo, 1886–1927

Ball, John, 1911–1988

Ballads (Anonymous)

Ballard, J[ames] G[raham], 1930–2009

Baltzell, E[dward] Digby, 1915–1996

Balzac, Honoré de, 1799–1850

Bangs, Lester [Leslie Conway], 1948–1982

Bankhead, Tallulah [Brockman], 1903–1968

Banks, Ernie, 1931–2015

Bannister, Roger, 1929–

Banville, Théodore de, 1823–1891

Baraka, Amiri [LeRoi Jones], 1934–2014

Barbellion, W[ilhelm] N[ero] P[ilate] [pseudonym of Bruce Frederick Cummings], 1889–1919

Barbour, John, c. 1316–1395

Barca the Carthaginian. See Maharbal

Barca, Pedro Calderón de la. See Calderón

Barère de Vieuzac, Bertrand, 1755–1841

Baring, Maurice, 1874–1945

Baring-Gould, Sabine, 1834–1924

Barlow, Joel, 1754–1812

Barlow, John Perry, 1947–

Barnes, Djuna, 1892–1982

Barnes, Julian, 1946–

Barnfield, Richard, 1574–1627

Barnum, P[hineas] T[aylor], 1810–1891

Barrie, Sir James M[atthew], 1860–1937

Barry, Philip, 1896–1949

Barrymore, Ethel, 1879–1959

Bartas, Seigneur Du. See Du Bartas

Barth, Karl, 1886–1968

Barthelme, Donald, 1931–1989

Barthes, Roland, 1915–1980

Bartram, William, 1739–1823

Baruch, Bernard M[annes], 1870–1965

Barzun, Jacques, 1907–2012

Bashō [Matsuo Bashō], 1644–1694

Basie, Count [William], 1904–1984

Basse, William, d. c. 1653

Bataille, Georges, 1897–1962

Bates, Katharine Lee, 1859–1929

Bateson, Gregory, 1904–1980

Bath, Sir William Pulteney, Earl of. See Pulteney

Bauby, Jean-Dominique, 1952–1997

Baudelaire, Charles, 1821–1867

Baudrillard, Jean, 1929–2007

Baum, L[yman] Frank, 1856–1919

Bax, Arnold, 1883–1953

Baxter, Richard, 1615–1691

Bazin, André, 1918–1958

Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of. See Disraeli

Beamer, Todd, 1968–2001

Beattie, Ann, 1947–

Beaumarchais, Pierre de, 1732–1799

Beaumont, Francis, c. 1584–1616

Beaumont and Fletcher

Beauvoir, Simone de, 1908–1986

Bechdel, Alison, 1960–

Becker, Carl [Lotus], 1873–1945

Becker, Walter, 1950–

Beckett, Samuel, 1906–1989

Beddoes, Thomas Lovell, 1803–1849

Bede [Venerable Bede], c. 672–c. 735

Bedford, Sybille, 1911–2006

Bee, Barnard Elliott, 1824–1861

Beecher, Henry Ward, 1813–1887

Beerbohm, Sir Max, 1872–1956

Beethoven, Ludwig van, 1770–1827

Beeton, Isabella Mary, 1836–1865

Begin, Menachem, 1913–1992

Behn, Aphra, 1640–1689

Bell, Alexander Graham, 1847–1922

Bell, Daniel, 1919–2011

Bell, Gertrude, 1868–1926

Bell, William, 1939–

Bellah, James Warner, 1899–1976

Bellamy, Edward, 1850–1898

Bellamy, Francis, 1856–1931

Bellay, Joachim du, 1522–1560

Belloc, Hilaire, 1870–1953

Bellow, Saul, 1915–2005

Bemelmans, Ludwig, 1898–1962

Benchley, Robert [Charles], 1889–1945

Benda, Julien, 1867–1956

Benedict XVI, Pope [Joseph Ratzinger], 1927–

Benedict, Ruth [Fulton], 1887–1948

Benedict, Saint, 480–543

Benét, Stephen Vincent, 1898–1943

Ben-Gurion, David, 1886–1973

Benjamin, Walter, 1892–1940

Benn, Gottfried, 1886–1956

Bennard, George, 1873–1958

Bennett, Alan, 1934–

Bennett, [Enoch] Arnold, 1867–1931

Benson, A[rthur] C[hristopher], 1862–1925

Bentham, Jeremy, 1748–1832

Bentley, E[dmund] C[lerihew], 1875–1956

Bentsen, Lloyd, 1921–2006

Berger, John, 1926–

Bergman, Ingmar, 1918–2007

Bergman, Ingrid, 1915–1982

Bergson, Henri, 1859–1941

Bergstein, Eleanor, 1938–

Berkeley, George, 1685–1753

Berlin, Irving, 1888–1989

Berlin, Sir Isaiah, 1909–1997

Berman, Marshall, 1940–2013

Bernanke, Ben, 1953–

Bernanos, Georges, 1888–1948

Bernard of Chartres, c. 1100

Bernard, Claude, 1813–1878

Bernard, Saint, 1091–1153

Bernhard, Thomas, 1931–1989

Bernhardt, Sarah, 1844–1923

Berns, Bert [Bertrand Russell], 1929–1967

Bernstein, Charles, 1950–

Bernstein, Leonard, 1918–1990

Berra, Yogi [Lawrence Peter], 1925–2015

Berry, Bill, 1958–

Berry, Chuck [Charles Edward Anderson], 1926–

Berry, Wendell, 1934–

Berryman, John, 1914–1972

Beston, Henry, 1888–1968

Bethune, Mary McLeod, 1875–1955

Betjeman, John, 1906–1984

Bettelheim, Bruno, 1903–1990

Beveridge, Albert [Jeremiah], 1862–1927

Beyle, Henri. See Stendhal

Bhagavad Gita, 250 B.C.E.–250 C.E.

Biard, Gérard, 1959–



Ecclesiasticus (Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach)

I Esdras

II Esdras

History of Susanna


  • Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations remains the go-to source for checking who said what, when, and where. The massive manual of missives and mottos has enabled writers, students, and even gamblers (‘Bet you don’t know who said . . . ‘) to get it right.”—Dave Kindy, Boston Globe

On Sale
Oct 25, 2022
Page Count
1504 pages

John Bartlett

About the Author

Geoffrey O'Brien is the editor-in-chief of The Library of America, and author of fifteen books, most recently The Fall of the House of Walworth, and other works including Hardboiled America, Dream Time, The Phantom Empire, The Times Square Story, The Browser's Ecstasy, Castaways of the Image Planet, and Sonata for Jukebox. He has contributed frequently to The New York Review of Books, Artforum, Film Comment, and other publications. He lives in New York City.

Learn more about this author