I’m back to inviting readers to submit quotations whose origins they want me to try to trace, using my book, The Yale Book of Quotations, and my more recent research.
I’d love to know if “Youth is wasted on the young” preceded It’s a Wonderful Life.
The answer is yes. The forthcoming Yale Book of Modern Proverbs has in its files “The appetite of youth! What a pity it’s wasted on young men” (Michael Arlen, Man’s Mortality ) and “I often think of Bernard Shaw‘s remark, that youth is a wonderful thing, but that it is wasted on the young” (Frank H. Lee, Tokyo Calendar ). This proverb is often attributed to George Bernard Shaw, but no one has ever found a real source in Shaw’s writings or utterances.
“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does tend to rhyme.” I’ve heard this attributed to Mark Twain, but couldn’t track any definitive answer down online.
The one thing we know, of course, is that this was not by Mark Twain. The earliest example in the forthcoming Yale Book of Modern Proverbs is the following:
W. D. M. is seeking to locate the source of the following line, attributed to Mark Twain: “History never repeats itself, but it rhymes.”
New York Times, Jan. 25, 1970
Do any readers have any other quotations whose origins they would like me to attempt to trace?