Quiz: Can you guess the writers behind these 50 famous quotes?
The modern world of enhanced brevity and rapidly consumed content is full of quotes by inspirational thinkers, leaders, artists, and, perhaps most notably, writers. Memorable quotes are ubiquitous on social media feeds, often referenced by politicians, and are plastered across any variety of merchandise, painted signs, and greeting cards.
In the following quiz, Stacker put together a list of 50 famous quotes and the writers who coined them using data gathered from Goodreads, newspapers, magazines, book and poetry foundations, and author websites.
Many of these quotes have become part of a common language. Others may be trickier to place. Some of the most popular quotes, which get repeatedly splashed around social media, are incorrectly assigned to the wrong person; others are completely inaccurate altogether.
It’s impossible to overstate the power of writers to inspire, comfort, or cure us from our experiences of loss, confusion, or flat-out boredom. They provide us with expansive bodies of work filled with snippets of gold. Poets often work to provide the most impact while taking up the least amount of space, but all writers are capable of expelling brilliant little quips of authentic wisdom, truth, and absurdity. They simply fall out of them.
If by chance there aren’t enough handy quotes in your lexicon, there are plenty in the following quiz, ranging from topics as disparate as politics and the tragedies of the human experience. It’s a good thing too, as they come in handy and don’t require much effort. Like author Dorothy L.Sayers says, “I always have a quotation for everything—it saves original thinking.”
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- Quote: “Being human is not hard because you’re doing it wrong, it’s hard because you’re doing it right.”
- Answer: Written by Glennon Doyle in her bestselling book “Untamed,” this quote speaks to the reader about the hardships of being human, and the worth of confronting those hardships head-on. Doyle has experienced profound changes in her journey of personal discovery, including going through a divorce, going sober, and working to recover from bulimia.
- Quote: “Freedom is... the right to write the wrong words.”
- Answer: Patti Smith coined this phrase and many others you’ve likely heard. A writer, activist, singer, and performer, Smith is the kind of writer who writers aspire to emulate. She has had one of the most remarkable careers of any American artist in the 20th century, writing extensively about her experiences throughout. She received the National Book Award for “Just Kids” in 2010 and her album “Horses” was listed by Rolling Stone as one of the best of all time.
- Quote: “America I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.”
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- Answer: Allen Ginsberg helped define the Beat Generation, alongside friends and fellow writers including Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs. The quote is from his poem “America,” which provides insight into how he reflected on the state of the country in 1956. Ginsberg’s other great works include the epic poem “Howl” and “Kaddish and Other Poems.” He incorporated political activism into his work and was a student of Buddhist philosophy.
- Quote: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
- Answer: Anaïs Nin's prolific career included an expansive series of diaries and a number of novels. Born in France in 1903, Nin became enmeshed in the midcentury sexual revolutions of Paris, and wrote exquisitely, with great depth, about her experiences with love, relationships, and the experience of being human. Her book “Delta of Venus” is a collection of erotica that was commissioned by a private collector.
- Quote: “I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”
- Answer: James Baldwin, born Aug. 2, 1924, is known for his novels, plays, and his analyses of race and civil rights. He was a persistent advocate for free speech, racial justice, and protest, and lived as an openly gay man. His works include powerful criticisms of discrimination and prejudice. Baldwin died from stomach cancer in 1987.
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