Famous people sure do say a lot of very wise words that should be passed on to as many people as possible. But the thing is that many of the quotes we’re so used to associate with a specific celebrity may not have been said by them at all! In fact, such misattributions happen all the time. Here are 11 surprising quotations that were completely miscredited.
We can say with confidence that this is one of the most well-known quotations by Sir Isaac Newton. And in fact, he wrote those exact words in a letter to Robert Hooke, an English mathematician and philosopher.
The catch is that Newton wasn’t the author of the phrase, it was a reference to the famous words said by a philosopher named Bernard of Chartres in the 12th century.
Bernard wrote the following: "We are like dwarves perched on the shoulders of giants, and thus we are able to see more and farther than the latter." Thus, the famous quote didn’t belong to Newton, but it is still a very very clever idea, so much so, that even the father of physics himself could appreciate it.
This was the case with the famous quote by a French queen that, when confronted with the fact that the poor are out of bread, simply blurted out “let them eat cake.” The situation was immortalized in the book “Confessions” by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, but the author referred to the monarch as “great princess” instead of calling her by name.
Eventually, the phrase was wrongly attributed to Marie Antoinette, despite the fact that she was only 12 years old when Rousseau wrote the book and wasn’t part of the French royal court until she married King Louis XVI in 1770.
5. "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."(not Dr. Seuss)
She wrote them in a 1989 book "A Return To Love", a spiritual guide.
The quote goes on, “It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world ... As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”. Nicely put, not-Nelson.
She is a celebrated historian, who actually called her 2007 book about colonial woman history "Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History." It was not the first time Ulrich used this phrase either.
In 1976, she wrote the same words, though in a more matter-of-fact and less symbolic meaning, for an issue of the academic journal "American Quarterly".
These words are popularly misdated by about 14 centuries, as the Italian philosopher and politician didn’t write them. Instead, the quote comes from the times of antiquity.
In the classic poem by Roman poet Ovid, "Heroides II" one can easily find these words: "Exitus acta probat". This translates to "the outcome justifies the means." One can hardly blame the public for misattributing this quote to the Italian political philosopher, as his support for the tyranny of the royalty
You can find different versions of these words, but we owe none of these versions to the famous physicist. American journalist Michael Becker traced the origins of this quote back to a mystery novelist named Rita Mae Brown.
In her novel "Sudden Death", she mentions that the quote belonged to Jane Fulton, a character she herself made up. In the novel she wrote, "Unfortunately, Susan didn't remember what Jane Fulton once said. 'Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.'"
We must say that we’re even kind of relieved to find out that Einstein didn’t coin this saying, as it clearly violates the probabilistic laws of physics.
This last one is a funny one because the truth is that no one knows who wrote it to this day, and so it gets attributed to a new person every time. In 1970, a South Carolina newspaper stated that Twain was the author, but they made it up.
And though Jack Benny and Muhammad Ali both said these words much later, the earliest mention in history belongs to an anonymous governmental researcher. The unknown person wrote in 1968, "Aging is a matter of mind. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."
With time and after being repeated over and over, the "mind over matter" part got added to the quote, so one can even say that the wise words were a communal effort. In the end, does it really matter who said it? It’s still a very clever saying that everyone should know.