A while back, 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.
Thanks for tracking these down! I’ve heard this quote attributed to everyone from Thomas Jefferson to Ben Hogan: “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”
The Yale Book of Quotations quotes F. L. Emerson in 1947: “I’m a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the more of it I seem to have.” Subsequent research by me, however, has found this saying used in a 1934 book, certainly not by Thomas Jefferson.
How about the very recent “Don’t waste a crisis”? Did that phrase/quote have usage prior to Rahm Emanuel?”
Charles Doyle of the University of Georgia, my coauthor on the forthcoming Yale Book of Modern Proverbs, has found that this expression is now commonly applied to economic or diplomatic crises that can be exploited to advance political agendas, but he traced it back at least as far as 1976, when M. F. Weiner wrote an article in the journal Medical Economics entitled “Don’t Waste a Crisis — Your Patient’s or Your Own.” Weiner meant by this that a medical crisis can be used to improve aspects of personality, mental health, or lifestyle.
Do any readers have any other quotations whose origins they would like me to attempt to trace?