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Jan Struther

  • ... the chrysanthemums ... were the big mop-headed kind, burgundy-coloured, with curled petals; their beauty was noble, architectural ...

  • The great thing, perhaps was not to be too successful too young.

  • ... fireworks had for her a direct and magical appeal. Their attraction was more complex than that of any other form of art. They had pattern and sequence, colour and sound, brilliance and mobility; they had suspense, surprise, and a faint hint of danger; above all, they had the supreme quality of transience, which puts the keenest edge on beauty and makes it touch some spring in the heart which more enduring excellences cannot reach.

  • Words were the only net to catch a mood, the only sure weapon against oblivion.

  • It seemed to her sometimes that the most important thing about marriage was not a home or children or a remedy against sin, but simply there being always an eye to catch.

  • Days were the units which mattered most, being divided from each other by the astounding phenomenon of losing and regaining consciousness. (How brave, how trustful people are, to dare to go to sleep!)

  • ... how much of the fun of parenthood lay in watching the children remake, with delighted wonder, one's own discoveries.

  • The worst of gardening is that it's so full of metaphors one hardly knows where to begin.

  • Constructive destruction is one of the most delightful employments in the world, and in civilized life the opportunities for it are only too rare.

  • ... swans ... always look as though they'd just been reading their own fan-mail.

  • One is what one remembers: no more, no less.

  • 'One is what one remembers: no more, no less.' I thought that was true when I wrote it, but I see now that it is only half of the truth. One is partly what one remembers, and partly what one is planning for.

    • Jan Struther,
    • preface to Mrs. Miniver ()
  • ... the blind heart is worse than the blind eye, / And the half-truth more dangerous than the lie.

    • Jan Struther,
    • "For Stephen Vincet Benét," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • It took me forty years on earth / To reach this sure conclusion: / There is no Heaven but clarity, / No Hell except confusion.

    • Jan Struther,
    • "All Clear" (1940), A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • To visit a new country for the first time is great fun; but it is even greater fun to introduce somebody else to a country that you know.

    • Jan Struther,
    • "Personally Conducted," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • ... punctuality is the thief of adventure ...

    • Jan Struther,
    • "A Balkan Journey," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • The relationship of host and guest has always been a difficult one, hedged about with practical and spiritual problems. ... If you went to tea with Marmaduke, you were not allowed to take things away from him because, after all, they were his toys; but if Marmaduke came to tea with you, you had to give him everything he wanted because he was the visitor. ... you never again felt quite the same about Marmaduke.

    • Jan Struther,
    • "Snillocs," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • ... nature has decreed that for what men suffer by having to shave, be killed in battle, and eat the legs of chickens, women make amends by housekeeping, childbirth, and writing all the letters for both of them ...

    • Jan Struther,
    • "Snillocs," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • [List making] is inexpensive, harmless to other people, and not dependent upon your age or your income.

    • Jan Struther,
    • "Ainsworth-Zazoulian," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • Giving a party is like having a baby: its conception is more fun than its completion; and once you have begun it, it is almost impossible to stop.

    • Jan Struther,
    • "Of a Party," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • [Gardening] is a means by which you can attain many valuable hours of solitude without being thought unsociable.

    • Jan Struther,
    • "Upside-Down Reflections," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • ... Scots are born exiles, and Scotland the perfect country to be exiled from. Do not imagine that I am running down Scotland. Far from it. ... No, what I mean is that Scotland's beauties, though undeniable, are obvious ones, easy to carry in the heart, easy even to describe to the benighted members of less fortunate races. Lakes, islands and mountains, heather and rowan, broad straths and narrow glens — these are jewels easily worn in the memory ...

    • Jan Struther,
    • "Behold the Hebrides," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • I can't abide cats myself, but of course we have to have one in the kitchen to deal with the mice. I insisted on getting a black one, because anything else shows the dirt so in London.

    • Jan Struther,
    • "Magic," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • To be put down in this world, and given only eighty years to get to know it in, is like being let loose in the United States of America for the first time with a high-powered car and unlimited gasoline — but with a visa that is valid for only a week. It's agonizing, that's what it is.

    • Jan Struther,
    • "Democracy Begins at Home," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • The importance of the ordinary citizen is very greatly underestimated — not so much by those in authority as by the ordinary citizen himself.

    • Jan Struther,
    • "Democracy Begins at Home," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • ... to achieve unity without uniformity is the whole essence of the democratic way of life.

    • Jan Struther,
    • "Democracy Begins at Home," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • Physical weather certainly is beyond our control. ... But human weather — the psychological climate of the world — is not beyond our control. The human race is its own rain and its own sun. It creates its own cyclones and anti-cyclones. The ridges of high pressure which we sometimes enjoy, the troughs of low pressure which we so often endure, are of our own making and nobody else's.

    • Jan Struther,
    • "The Weather of the World," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • Private opinion creates public opinion. Public opinion overflows eventually into national behaviour and national behaviour, as things are arranged at present, can make or mar the world. That is why private opinion, and private behaviour, and private conversation are so terrifyingly important.

    • Jan Struther,
    • "The Weather of the World," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • ... his ordinary dinner-table conversation is nothing but one long series of playful digs or open wisecracks at almost anybody who happens to be of a different class, race, or nationality — or even sex — from his own. He has a very amusing turn of phrase, and he is the sort of man whose remarks get repeated and probably exaggerated. And after a bit I found myself wishing to goodness that he would find some other subject to be funny about, rather than the superficial differences between one lot of human beings and another.

    • Jan Struther,
    • "The Weather of the World," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • However long the horror continued, one must not get to the stage of refusing to think about it. To shrink from direct pain was bad enough, but to shrink from vicarious pain was the ultimate cowardice. And whereas to conceal direct pain was a virtue, to conceal vicarious pain was a sin. Only by feeling it to the utmost, and by expressing it, could the rest of the world help to heal the injury which had caused it. Money, food, clothing, shelter — people could give all these and still it would not be enough; it would not absolve them from paying also, in full, the imponderable tribute of grief.

    • Jan Struther,
    • "United Jewish Appeal," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • ... there is practically no difference at all between a family and a nation, except the difference in size. A family is a nation seen through the wrong end of a telescope; a nation is a family seen through the right end of a telescope, and I don't believe it is possible to achieve a happy and successful family life, or a happy and successful national life, unless we bear this simple fact in mind and behave accordingly.

    • Jan Struther,
    • "Unity Among Americans," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • ... librarianship is one of the few callings in the world for which is it still possible to feel unqualified admiration and respect.

    • Jan Struther,
    • "Librarians," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • ... until we have done everything we can to make the whole world into a home fit for all men, women and children to live in, we have not earned the right to enjoy our own fireside.

    • Jan Struther,
    • "Women's Part in Federal Union," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • When there is a world scarcity of any commodity, whether it's food or free speech, then the whole world must go on rations in order that eventually the whole world may have it again in plenty.

    • Jan Struther,
    • "Freedom of Speech," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • One day my life will end; and lest / Some whim should prompt you to review it, / Let her who knows the subject best / Tell you the shortest way to do it; / Then say, 'Here lies one doubly blest.' / Say, 'She was happy.'

    • Jan Struther,
    • in The Hymn ()

Jan Struther, English writer

(1901 - 1953)

Real name: Joyce Anstruther, later Joyce Maxtone Graham and finally Joyce Placzek.