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Quote week_1


"Pale, beyond porch and portal,
Crowned with calm leaves, she stands
Who gathers all things mortal
With cold immortal hands."

Algernon Charles Swinburne

In The Garden of Proserpine, 1866

Quote week_2


"History is the present. That's why every generation writes it anew. But what most people think of as history is its end product, myth."

E. L. Doctorow

Interviewed by George Plimpton in The Paris Review, Winter 1986

Quote week_3


"The Art of Biography
Is different from Geography.
Geography is about Maps,
But Biography is about Chaps."

Edmund Clerihew Bentley

In Biography for Beginners, 1905

Quote week_4


"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool."

William Shakespeare

In As You Like It

Quote week_5


"In history, so-called Great Men are but labels serving to give a name to historical events, and like labels they have the least possible connection with the event itself. Every action of theirs that seems to them an act of their own free will is, in an historical sense, not free at all but in bondage to the whole course of previous history, and predestined from all eternity."

Leo Tolstoy

In War and Peace

Quote week_6


"It is not histories I am writing, but lives; the most glorious deeds do not always indicate virtue or vice, but a small thing like a phrase or a jest often reveals more of a character than the bloodiest battles."


In Parallel Lives

Quote week_7


"Discriminating brevity is a law of the right biographic method."

Sidney Lee

In Principles of Biography, 1911

Quote week_8


"The history of the world is but the biography of great men."

Thomas Carlyle

In Heroes and Hero Worship, 1840

Quote week_9


"Think, in this battered Caravanserai
Whose Portals are alternate Night and Day,
How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp
Abode his destined Hour, and went his way."

Edward FitzGerald

In The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám

Quote week_10


"Biography should be written by an acute enemy."

Arthur Balfour

Quoted by S. K. Ratcliffe, The Observer, 30 January 1927

Quote week_11


"There is properly no history; only biography."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

In Essays: First Series, 1841

Quote week_12


"I never did write a biography, and I don't exactly know how to set about it; you see I have to be accurate and keep to the facts, a most difficult thing for a writer of fiction."

Elizabeth Gaskell

Referring to her Life of Charlotte Brontë in a letter to Harriet Anderson, 15 March 1856

Quote week_13


"Beauty is momentary in the mind –
The fitful tracing of a portal;
But in the flesh it is immortal.

The body dies; the body's beauty lives."

Wallace Stevens

In Peter Quince at the Clavier, 1923

Quote week_14


"People always complain about muck-raking biographers saying 'Leave us our heroes.' 'Leave us our villains' is just as important."

Alan Bennett

In his Diary, 11 February 1996

Quote week_15


"Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory."

Benjamin Disraeli

In Contarini Fleming, 1832

Quote week_16


"Just how difficult it is to write a biography can be reckoned by anybody who sits down and considers just how many people know the truth about his or her love affairs."

Rebecca West

In Vogue, 1 November 1952

Quote week_17


"There is no Death! What seems so is transition;
This life of mortal breath
Is but a suburb of the life elysian,
Whose portal we call Death."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In Resignation, 1849

Quote week_18


"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

Martin Luther King

On the steps of Lincoln Memorial, August 28, 1963

Quote week_19


"The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power."

Alexander Hamilton

In The Farmer Refuted, published 1775

Quote week_20


"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit."

Harry S. Truman


Quote week_21


"If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research, would it?"

Albert Einstein


Quote week_22


"Most people would die sooner than think – in fact they do so."

Bertrand Russell

In The ABC of Relativity, 1925

Quote week_23


"Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes."

Oscar Wilde

Said by the character Dumby in Act III of Lady Windermere's Fan

Quote week_24


"Every man desires to live long; but no man would be old."

Jonathan Swift

In Thoughts on Various Subjects

Quote week_25


"Accept the truth from whatever source it comes."


In Shemonah Perakim (Eight Chapters)

Quote week_26


"Most people today still believe, perhaps unconsciously, in the heliocentric universe ... every newspaper in the land has a section on astrology, yet few have anything at all on astronomy."

Hannes Alfvén

Quoted by Anthony Peratt in The World & I, May 1988, pp. 190–197.

Quote week_27


"Dare to be naïve."

Buckminster Fuller

In Synergetics, 1975

Quote week_28


"The world is fast learning that of all forms of slavery there is none that is so harmful and degrading as that form of slavery which tempts one human being to hate another by reason of his race or color. One man cannot hold another man down in the ditch without remaining down in the ditch with him."

Booker T. Washington

In An Address on Abraham Lincoln before the Republican Club of New York City, February 12, 1909

Quote week_29


"I bought some batteries, but they weren't included – so I had to buy them again."

Steven Wright

From I Have a Pony, Warner Bros. Records CD (1985)

Quote week_30


"The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition."

Carl Sagan

In Cosmos, 1980

Quote week_31


"He who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot is a fool; and he who dares not is a slave."

Sir William Drummond of Logiealmond

In Academical Questions, 1805

Quote week_32


"We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are."

Anaïs Nin

In The Diary of Anaïs Nin 1939–1944, published 1969

Quote week_33


"So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable."

Christopher Reeve

Speech to the Democratic National Convention on August 26, 1996

Quote week_34


"Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you're alive, it isn't."

Richard Bach

In Illusions, 1977

Quote week_35


"It is better to debate a question, without deciding it, than to decide it, without debate."

Joseph Joubert

In Pensées et correspondances

Quote week_36


"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world."

Margaret Mead

Trademark of the Institute for Intercultural Studies

Quote week_37


"I think I'd most like to spend a day with Harry. I'd take him out for a meal and apologise for everything I've put him through."

J. K. Rowling

World Book Day Web Chat, 4 March 2004

Quote week_38


"From without, no wonderful effect is wrought within ourselves, unless some interior, responding wonder meets it. That the starry vault shall surcharge the heart with all rapturous marvelings, is only because we ourselves are greater miracles, and superber trophies than all the stars in universal space."

Herman Melville

In Pierre: or, The Ambiguities, 1852

Quote week_39


"When are you people going to learn? It's not about who's right or wrong. No denomination's nailed it yet, and they never will because they're all too self-righteous to realize that it doesn't matter what you have faith in, just that you have faith. Your hearts are in the right place, but your brains need to wake up. I have issues with anyone who treats faith as a burden instead of a blessing. You people don't celebrate your faith; you mourn it."

Kevin Smith

Said by the character Serendipity in Dogma

Quote week_40


"There is no first world and third world. There is only one world, for all of us to live and delight in."

Gerald Durrell

Quoted in State of the Ark by Lee Durrell

Quote week_41


"For millions of years mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk and we learned to listen."

Stephen Hawking

BT Group television advertisement (1993)

Quote week_42


"…life will not perish! It will begin anew with love; it will start out naked and tiny; it will take root in the wilderness, and to it all that we did and built will mean nothing—our towns and factories, our art, our ideas will all mean nothing, and yet life will not perish! Only we have perished. Our houses and machines will be in ruins, our systems will collapse, and the names of our great will fall away like dry leaves. Only you, love, will blossom on this rubbish heap and commit the seed of life to the winds."

Karel Čapek

In R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), 1921

Quote week_43


"Know that however ugly the parts appear
the whole remains beautiful...
... the wholeness of life and things, the divine beauty
of the universe. Love that, not man
Apart from that, or else you will share man's pitiful confusions,
or drown in despair when his days darken."

Robinson Jeffers

In The Answer, 1936

Quote week_44


"Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent."

Isaac Asimov

"Foundation", Astounding Science-Fiction, May 1942

Quote week_45


"Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom; and a great empire and little minds go ill together."

Edmund Burke

Speech on Conciliation with America, 22 March 1775

Quote week_46


"I have but one passion: to enlighten those who have been kept in the dark, in the name of humanity which has suffered so much and is entitled to happiness. My fiery protest is simply the cry of my very soul."

Émile Zola

In "J'accuse…!", L'Aurore 13 January 1898

Quote week_47


"Not one of us knows what effect his life produces, and what he gives to others; that is hidden from us and must remain so, though we are often allowed to see some little fraction of it, so that we may not lose courage."

Albert Schweitzer

In The Spiritual Life, 1947

Quote week_48


"Blue Moon, now I'm no longer alone,
without a dream in my heart, without a love of my own."

Lorenz Hart

Blue Moon, 1934

Quote week_49


"If I can stop one heart from breaking
I shall not live in vain.
If I can ease one life the aching
Or cool one pain
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again
I shall not live in vain."

Emily Dickinson

Quote week_50


"A wise man ... proportions his belief to the evidence."

David Hume

In Philosophical Essays Concerning Human Understanding, 1748

Quote week_51


"I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."

Isaac Newton

Quoted in Memoirs of the Life, Writings and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton by Sir David Brewster, 1855

Quote week_52


"I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach."

Charles Dickens

In A Christmas Carol, 1843

Quote week_53


"I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach."

Charles Dickens

In A Christmas Carol, 1843