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Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • ... I found that my name signed to a check was even more welcome than when signed to a letter ...

  • Besides, you want the unvarnished and ungarnished truth, and I'm no hand for that. I'm a lawyer.

  • Love is like the measles. The older you get it, the worse the attack.

  • ... my family, although it keeps its hair, turns gray early — a business asset but a social handicap.

  • I had a vision ... of being found on the pavement by some passerby, with a small punctuation mark ending my sentence of life.

  • Lightning never strikes twice in the same place.

  • ... having considerable mind, changing it became almost as ponderous an operation as moving a barn, although not nearly so stable.

  • It was said of Miss Letitia that when money came into her possession it went out of circulation.

  • ... I suppose it is because woman's courage is mental and man's physical, that in times of great strain women always make the better showing.

  • ... the calm of a place like Bellwood is the peace of death without the hope of resurrection.

  • She hasn't called her soul her own for so long that I guess the good Lord won't hold her responsible for it.

  • Her voice was heavy, throaty, expressionless. She threw it like a weapon ...

  • I never saw a lawyer yet who would admit he was making money.

  • I have always regarded divorce as essentially disagreeable, like castor oil, but necessary.

  • ... it's been my experience that the first few days of married life women are blind because they want to be and after that because they have to be.

  • It takes a good many years and some pretty hard knocks to make people tolerant.

  • To the bottle! In infancy, the milk bottle; in our prime, the wine bottle; in our dotage, the pill bottle.

  • War is a thing of fearful and curious anomalies ... It has shown that government by men only is not an appeal to reason, but an appeal to arms; that on women, without a voice to protest, must fall the burden. It is easier to die than to send a son to death.

  • I have never learned to say 'gas' for gasoline. It seems to me as absurd as if I were to say 'but' for butter.

    • Mary Roberts Rinehart,
    • Tish
    • ()
  • I suppose there is something in all of us that harks back to the soil. When you come to think of it, what are picnics but outcroppings of instinct? No one really enjoys them or expects to enjoy them, but with the first warm days some prehistoric instinct takes us out into the woods, to fry potatoes over a strangling wood fire or spend the next week getting grass stains out of our clothes. It must be instinct; every atom of intelligence warns us to stay at home near the refrigerator.

    • Mary Roberts Rinehart,
    • Tish
    • ()
  • ... every act of one's life is the unavoidable result of every act that has preceded it.

    • Mary Roberts Rinehart,
    • Tish
    • ()
  • The greatest weapon in the world ... is ridicule.

    • Mary Roberts Rinehart,
    • Tish
    • ()
  • Courage was America's watchword, but a courage of the body rather than of the soul — physical courage, not moral.

  • Peace is not a passive but an active condition, not a negation but an affirmation. It is a gesture as strong as war.

    • Mary Roberts Rinehart,
    • in The Saturday Evening Post ()
  • [On the Irish:] Strange race ... Don't know what they want, but want it like the devil.

  • ... he knew that marriage was a beginning and not an end. It did not change people fundamentally. It only changed their habits.

  • Great loves were almost always great tragedies. Perhaps it was because love was never truly great until the element of sacrifice entered into it.

  • When a great burden is lifted, the relief is not always felt at once. The galled places still ache.

  • From class consciousness to class hatred was but a step.

  • Men were not equal in the effort they made, nor did equal efforts bring equal result. ... Equality of opportunity, yes. Equality of effort and result, no.

  • Love sees clearly, and seeing, loves on. But infatuation is blind; when it gains sight, it dies.

  • Death was a beginning and not an end; it was the morning of the spirit. Tired bodies lay down to sleep and their souls wakened to the morning, rested; the first fruits of them that slept.

  • Men love a joke — on the other fellow. But your really humorous woman loves a joke on herself.

  • ... as all women know, there are really no men at all. There are grown-up boys, and middle-aged boys, and elderly boys, and even sometimes very old boys. But the essential difference is simply exterior. Your man is always a boy.

  • Men play harder than they work; women work harder than they play.

  • ... pretense is the oil that lubricates society.

  • The only way to make a husband over according to one's ideas ... would be to adopt him at an early age, say four.

  • ... the world doesn't come to the clever folks, it comes to the stubborn, obstinate, one-idea-at-a-time people.

    • Mary Roberts Rinehart,
    • "The Family Friend," Affinities ()
  • You're a perfect child, a stubborn child! Your mind's in pigtails, like your hair.

    • Mary Roberts Rinehart,
    • "The Family Friend," Affinities ()
  • ... by merely letting him understand that he couldn't have what he'd never wanted, he was eager.

    • Mary Roberts Rinehart,
    • "The Family Friend," Affinities ()
  • There is a point at which curiosity becomes unbearable, when it becomes an obsession, like hunger.

  • Suspicion is like the rain. It falls on the just and on the unjust.

  • ... that sort of spiritual book-keeping which most of us call religion.

  • Life is not so very long ... A little work, a little sleep, a little love, and it is all over.

  • ... if one can remember without loving, then couldn't one love without remembering?

  • ... because we are always staring at the stars, we learn the shortness of our arms.

  • All houses in which men have lived and suffered and died are haunted houses.

  • [On having a hobby:] It's the safety valve of middle life, and the solace of age.

  • [On fishing:] Greatest rest in the world for the brain.

  • There is no place in the world, I imagine, for a philosopher with a sense of humor, a new leisure, and an inquiring turn of mind!

  • These are times of action. Men think and then act; sometimes, indeed, they simply act.

  • ... there comes a time when ambition ceases to burn, or romance to stir, and the highest cry of the human heart is for peace.

  • ... when knowledge comes in at the door, fear and superstition fly out of the window.

  • It is only in his head that man is heroic; in the pit of his stomach he is always a coward.

  • The one pleasure that never palls is the pleasure of not going to church.

  • 'Not speed, but brains will count, Lizzie,' she said to me. 'What does it matter how fast they can go if they don't know where they're going?'

    • Mary Roberts Rinehart,
    • "The Treasure Hunt," The Book of Tish ()
  • Enemies are an indication of character.

    • Mary Roberts Rinehart,
    • The Bat
    • ()
  • I have a great deal of mind. It takes a long time to change it.

    • Mary Roberts Rinehart,
    • The Bat
    • ()
  • Used to move so much, every time the chickens saw the team put in the wagon, they'd lie down on their backs and hold their legs up to be tied!

  • She had been bred in the new school ... This school taught that the wife was no longer subordinate to the husband; that marriage was a mutual contract, in which each bore his part. Obedience was even being left out of the marriage service.

  • What a tragedy it was that the only thing age could offer to youth was its own experience, and that the experiences of others were never profitable.

  • Patience and endurance were not virtues in a woman; they were necessities, forced on her. Perhaps some day things would change and women would renounce them. They would rise up and say: 'We are not patient. We will endure no more.' Then what would happen to the world?

  • It was the throats of women that died first. With men it was the nape of the neck. It withered or it grew heavy; men wrote their lives there, where they could not see what they had written. But with women it was the throat.

  • The youth of to-day is fairly hard, Missie. Hard as to its elders; it reserves its compromises for itself.

  • ... the new modern music puzzled her. It made her think but it did not make her feel ...

  • She was one of those small tight-lipped neurotics who sometimes turn to religion and now and then to crime.

  • Herbert used to say that he was as tight as the paper on the wall.

  • Conflict is the very essence of life.

  • Virginity is a state of mind, when all's said and done.

  • I suppose that we are only young, Chris, so long as we can forget. After that we merely remember!

  • Well, that was life. It was an old tree, and the old passed on. Probably they did not mind. There came a time when all sap ran slowly, and the peace of age with all things behind it merged easily into the peace of death. The difficult thing was to be young.

  • That is the tragedy of growing old, Chris. You don't leave the world. It leaves you.

  • Curious, how one remembered Christmas. Perhaps because other days might appeal to the head, but this one appealed to the heart.

  • [David's belief in prayer:] Was there after all something he had denied, and that old David had been able to summon when he needed it? He did not know, but always after that he had a phrase for it. He called it working better than he knew how.

  • Girls inevitably grew into women, but something of the boy persisted in every man.

    • Mary Roberts Rinehart,
    • "The Bryces," Married People ()
  • ... when she looked at her hands the left one looked almost naked without her wedding ring. The finger had shrunk under it, as happens in such cases, and she herself felt shrunken.

    • Mary Roberts Rinehart,
    • "The Rossiters," Married People ()
  • It's money that brings trouble. It always has and it always will.

  • A cat and a Bible, and nobody needs to be lonely.

    • Mary Roberts Rinehart,
    • title story, The Frightened Wife ()
  • He soft-soaped her until she couldn't see for the suds.

    • Mary Roberts Rinehart,
    • in Herbert Victor Prochnow, Speaker's Book of Epigrams and Witticisms ()
  • ... my crime books are actually novels and are written as such. One might even say that each one is really two novels, one of which is the story I tell the reader, and the other the buried story I know and let slip now and then into a clue to whet the reader's interest.

    • Mary Roberts Rinehart,
    • foreword, The Mary Roberts Rinehart Crime Book ()
  • The mystery story is two stories in one: the story of what happened and the story of what appeared to happen.

    • Mary Roberts Rinehart,
    • in Raymond Chandler, Raymond Chandler Speaking ()
  • Every crucial experience can be regarded as a setback — or the start of a new kind of development.

    • Mary Roberts Rinehart,
    • in Lillian Watson, Light From Many Lamps ()
  • Old men make wars that young men may die.

    • Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • To be kind to all, to like many and love a few, to be needed and wanted by those we love, is certainly the nearest we can come to happiness.

    • Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • ... there is no truly honest autobiography.

  • Some day some one will write a book about that frantic search of the creative worker for silence and freedom, not only from interruption but from the fear of interruption.

  • ... the theater is the only money-making business I know in which haste apparently rules from first to last.

  • ... there is something shameful about the death of a play. It does not die with pity, but contempt. A book may fail, but who is there to know it? It dies and is buried, and is decently interred on the bookseller's shelf; but the play dies to laughter, to scorn and disdain.

  • ... I was to find my cause, to hate war with a deadly loathing, to feel a murderous instinct to kill those men who, having lived their youth, would send into war other youth, not lived, unfulfilled, to fight and die for them; to hate the pride and cowardice of these old men, making their wars that boys must die.

  • I began to feel that if religion was either an illusion or a revelation, it was simpler to accept it as an illusion.

  • ... I believe that the matter is automatically self-regulating; that those women who prefer the home and have an ability for it will eventually return to it; that others, like myself, will compromise; and that still others, temperamentally unfitted for it, will remain in the world to add to its productivity ...

  • [To her frequently needed plumber:] How would you like to be adopted? I'm sure it would be cheaper.

  • ... it is axiomatic with most writing people that there are no such things as perfect conditions for work.

  • The author lives with one foot in an everyday world and the other feeling about anxiously for a foothold in another more precarious one.

  • [When working on a book] I have an almost complete detachment from the world I live in, a sort of armor against distraction. I talk to people, move about, appear on the surface much as usual. But later on I have only a confused memory of what has happened during that period.

  • Every writer knows the terror of an unexpected success. How to carry on? How to repeat it?

  • We are often miserable at our desk or typewriters, but not happy away from them.

  • [The writer] wants both to do the best possible work and also to reach the largest possible audience. The result is a fairly normal condition of discouragement.

  • Of one thing the reader can be certain: the more easily anything reads, the harder it has been to write.

Mary Roberts Rinehart, U.S. writer, journalist, suffragist

(1876 - 1958)