Here are more quote authors and origins Shapiro’s tracked down recently.
Quotes Uncovered: Who Punished Good Deeds?
Fifteen weeks ago, I invited readers to submit quotations for which they wanted me to try to trace the origins, using The Yale Book of Quotations and more recent research by me. Hundreds of people have responded via comments or e-mails. I am responding as best I can, a few per week.
Was Groucho Marx the first to say, “I would never join any club that would accept me as a member”? Always liked that one.
The earliest record of this immortal saying (referred to by Woody Allen in Annie Hall as the key quote of his adult life relative to women) given by The Yale Book of Quotations is the following:
[Explaining his resignation from the Hollywood chapter of the Friars Club:] “I do not care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.” Groucho Marx, Quoted in Look Magazine, March 28, 1950.
But compare these much earlier lines, also in the YBQ:
“I have now come to the conclusion never again to think of marrying; and for this reason: I can never be satisfied with anyone who would be blockhead enough to have me.” Abraham Lincoln, Letter to Mrs. Orville H. Browning, April 1, 1838.
“If I were settled I would quit all nonsense and swindle some girl into marrying me. But I wouldn’t expect to be “worthy” of her. I wouldn’t have a girl that I was worthy of. She wouldn’t do. She wouldn’t be respectable enough.” Mark Twain, Letter to Mary Fairbanks, December 12, 1867.
“No good deed goes unpunished.” I’ve heard it but never found who first said it.
This is usually ascribed to Clare Boothe Luce, but the The Yale Book of Quotations notes:
There is an earlier occurrence of “No good deed goes unpunished” in the Zanesville (Ohio) Signal, November 5, 1942, attributed there to Walter Winchell. The saying may in fact be proverbial: the Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs cites “1938 J. AGATE Ego 3 25 January 175 Pavia was in great form to-day: ‘Every good deed brings its own punishment.'”
Do any readers have any other quotations whose origins they would like me to attempt to trace?