[Vwoolf] Copy of email to the National Portrait Gallery

Jeremy Hawthorn jeremy.hawthorn at ntnu.no
Tue Jun 26 04:45:17 EDT 2018

There are various web pages that list misattributed, misunderstood, or 
just plain false quotations. But they are generally popular, and not 
open to submissions or reliably monitored. What is needed is something 
of the reach and reliability of Snopes, a place where false quotations 
can be reported.

And rather than a soundbite, a virus would perhaps be a more appropriate 
analogy, as such falsities spread, as the saying has it, like the 
plague. My own recent encounter with a similar fake quotation came in 
connection with writing an introduction to a reissue of Ernest Bramah's 
/What Might Have Been/ (1907, reissued in 1909 as /The Secret of the 
League/). Every bookseller advertising a copy of this book seems to have 
to include the claim that George Orwell acknowledged the book as a 
source or inspiration for /1984/. Even Bramah's biographer Aubrey 
Wilson, repeats the claim, asserting that "in his letters" Orwell made 
this acknowledgement. None of these claims is backed up by evidence from 
the letters or elsewhere, although there is evidence that Orwell was 
familiar with a number of Bramah's books. For those interested, the next 
number of /Notes and Queries/ will have a short piece by me questioning 
the claim.

All this confirms that when we impress upon students the need to check 
sources and to provide full references, we are doing something important.


On 26.06.2018 09:44, Sarah M. Hall via Vwoolf wrote:
> This is the most common Woolf misquotation, it seems. Googling just 
> now gave 51,600 results for the fake and 5,190 for the real one. It 
> looks as though truth is a casualty not just of war*, but of the 
> soundbite.
> *Which itself is a contested quotation; see 
> https://www.theguardian.com/notesandqueries/query/0,5753,-21510,00.html. 
> Some think the original of this is Samuel Johnson's 'Among the 
> calamities of war may be jointly numbered the diminution of the love 
> of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity 
> encourages.' But you may prefer to believe that Aeschylus had already 
> come up with a snappier version.

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