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Phyllis Bottome

  • Marriage! ... Why, it is like living in a thimble with a hippopotamus!

  • People who talk of new lives believe there will be no new troubles.

  • ... it is better in the long run to be cheated than to cheat. I have learned that there is no middle way.

  • If one has one cow, it is always better not to be too familiar with those who have seven.

  • Life was a series of messes, and one spent one's time cleaning them up; if one had any heart at all one also gave a part of one's time to cleaning up those of other people.

  • Human beings don't show, any more than cities at dusk, their real necessities! And yet if you looked — past the circle of outside lights, through the street walls still standing — into the want and emptiness within!

  • There's nothing final about a mistake, except its being taken as final.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "The Plain Case," Strange Fruit ()
  • ... what most people tell you a confidence for is to get something off their chest which hasn't really been on it. They don't necessarily want to hide the truth from you, but they're out to hide it from themselves

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "The Plain Case," Strange Fruit ()
  • Personally, I think it's a good way to let a child start right in with the laws of Nature before he's old enough to be surprised at them.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "The Plain Case," Strange Fruit ()
  • Death deceives relations often, and doctors sometimes, but the patient — never.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "The Wonder-Child," Strange Fruit ()
  • There was no passion in her feeling for him, and no relief from its daily pressure. It was like being loved by a large moist sponge.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "The Other Island," Strange Fruit ()
  • Cats are the most discreet of animals. They have soft coats and no hearts. What a philosophy! And how unfortunate that most of us have to part, first with our hearts and then with our soft coats, before we arrive at it!

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "The Little Red Band," Strange Fruit ()
  • Jane had that happy disposition which would like to imagine that every one really wishes the well-being of his neighbour and struggles, though sometimes rather disastrously, to help him towards it.

  • Her beauty made her silences as important as speech and much less troublesome ...

  • Beatrice cut her conversation as an inspired dressmaker cuts expensive materials without the need of a pattern. The shape was in her mind; and it was sometimes a little alarming to watch the ruthless decision with which Beatrice wielded her conversational shears.

  • ... most people are dead, and none of them seem to mind it. One hears a great many complaints about life, doesn't one? And there are people I know who would certainly grumble — however dead they were — if there were anything to grumble at.

  • When we refuse to accept our limitations, Nature, who is a stern realist, pays us out.

  • Poets, when they write of love, give themselves and everyone else away!

  • Lots of men hate women now-a-days. ... It was a man-made world, and now we're asking to go shares in the making.

  • ... to everything there is an end — except fear.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "The Vocation," Innocence and Experience ()
  • ... it is the possibilities which are the most terrible things in life.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "The Vocation," Innocence and Experience ()
  • ... a woman who has been a nun is never anything else.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "The Vocation," Innocence and Experience ()
  • She had settled down to age as if she found it very pleasant company.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "That for a Hermitage," Innocence and Experience ()
  • ... artists are exposed to great temptations: their eyes see paradise before their souls have reached it, and that is a great danger.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "Brother Leo," Innocence and Experience ()
  • What are so mysterious as the eyes of a child?

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "Brother Leo," Innocence and Experience ()
  • ... if money had been the way to save the world, Christ Himself would have been rich.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "Brother Leo," Innocence and Experience ()
  • She was so sincere that she would think only one thought at a time; and her whole nature would be behind her thought.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "The Wild Bird," Innocence and Experience ()
  • He must have known how to shut a train door without banging it, since half his life was spent in shutting doors. But no doubt to an Italian ticket collector, these sharp concussions were one of the chief pleasures of his working day.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "The Wild Bird," Innocence and Experience ()
  • ... anger is like milk, it should not be kept too long.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "The Home-Coming," Innocence and Experience ()
  • We do good by ourselves, but we seldom do wrong alone.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "The Home-Coming," Innocence and Experience ()
  • Curiosity is the only thing that really carries through time, isn't it? The creative curiosity, I mean, which fights its way into expression?

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "The Visitation," Innocence and Experience ()
  • ... however good photographs are nowadays, newspapers managed to turn likenesses into libels.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "The Visitation," Innocence and Experience ()
  • ... relays of nurses left her with the relieved alacrity of acrobats alighting from a trapeze.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "A Game of Skill," Innocence and Experience ()
  • ... the unfortunate thing about worldliness is that its rewards are rather less than its appetites.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "A Game of Skill," Innocence and Experience ()
  • ... she had developed a passionate longing for making other people comfortable at her own expense. The secret satisfactions of her heart had been when she succeeded in getting other people into armchairs, without their knowing she was doing it, and with nothing left for herself but something small and spiky in a corner.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "The Angel of the Darker Drink," Innocence and Experience ()
  • She believed in letting children have a certain amount of rope, and only intervened at the last moment, in order to prevent their hanging themselves by it.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "Double Life," Innocence and Experience ()
  • ... if you listen long enough — or is it deep enough? — the silence of a lover can speak plainer than any words! Only you must know how to listen. Pain must have taught you how.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "The Gate," Innocence and Experience ()
  • Pride had made Prue grow stubbornly silent, more silent than Ted wanted; and because women must lead up to love-making by conversation, beause kisses only seem natural to them after tender words, Prue had grow extremely cold to Ted.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "The Gate," Innocence and Experience ()
  • You've been brought up to be nice — and that's a dangerous profession.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "The Battle-Field," Innocence and Experience ()
  • That's the worst of devotion — its trade-mark is anxiety.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "The Battle-Field," Innocence and Experience ()
  • [She] pronounced vowels as if they were a little indecent, and one had better get back to consonants as quickly as possible.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "A Last Gift," Innocence and Experience ()
  • The darkness grew thinner and thinner like the walls of a bubble, before it breaks.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "The Gate," Innocence and Experience ()
  • A strip of pale daffodil, sharp as a razor blade, pried open the lid of the sky.

  • 'Ought'! What an ugly word that is!

  • ... to Hans failure had no more moral significance than success.

  • Darkness began to drink up the last cold light upon the mountainside.

  • Every hen thinks she has laid the best egg! Can we not all believe as we choose? But the choice of others — what is that to us? Let them alone ...

  • No emergency excuses you from exercising tolerance.

  • ... hurt vanity is one of the cruelest of mortal wounds.

  • I am never at picnics. The ground was not meant to be sat upon in its raw state, I feel sure, and I prefer my food without either caterpillars or drafts!

  • ... with courage a human being is safe enough. And without it — he is never for one instant safe!

  • A blossom must break the sheath it has been sheltered by.

  • ... about generosity Freya did not think at all — for those who practice it never weigh it ...

  • When lightning strikes, the mouse is sometimes burned with the farm.

  • He was so nearly honest a man, that his undigested lie, mortally disagreed with him.

  • Truth is its own defense.

  • ... death ... is not a great affair! Think — it happens once only — to each of us — as birth does. What do you know about being born? that — and no more — will you know about the act of death.

  • There is no thermometer for wants!

  • Time stood as still as an enemy in ambush.

  • It is a good thing to learn early that other people's opinions do not matter, unless they happen to be true.

  • That a Jew is despised or persecuted is bad for him, of course — but far worse for the Christian who does it — for although persecuted he can remain a good Jew — whereas no Christian who persecutes can possibly remain — if he ever was one — a good Christian!

  • All persecution is a sign of fear; for if we did not fear the power of an opinion different from our own, we should not mind others holding it.

  • It is a very dangerous thing to have an idea that you will not practice.

  • Knowledge cannot be changed, but the use to which it may be put can very easily be changed.

  • ... not being liked has a certain virtue about it, if the reason for the dislike does not lie in yourself!

  • ... one pets what one degrades; and one has to support what one has enfeebled

  • When you know a person particularly well, you cannot escape their ruffled feelings.

  • It is you men who make war! ... We, who have children, would never make it! Why should a woman be broken up in pain, to give her child life, only to see him carried away from her, to make food for guns?

  • Curses are children of hate; they belong to the wrong family! Prayers are better than curses!

  • Our responsibility to ourselves comes first — because in a sense what one is oneself is the responsibility that one has for others!

  • ... her morality often changed color against the stronger color schemes of her wishes.

  • A desire that has never been fulfilled is considerably less acute than one that has been fulfilled and then checked at the source.

  • To be in the right is often an expensive business ...

  • Nobody can afford to appear more pleasant than they really are!

  • Teobaldo Kurt Dubrik was a large stout man with a grand shock of hair, like the best type of sheepskin rug.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • "The Point of Vantage," Masks and Faces ()
  • The two best subjects for conversation are talking shop and making love.

    • Phyllis Bottome,
    • in Ladies' Home Journal ()
  • Her religion was that of all artists — obedience to the laws of her creative art.

  • The boy still has that uneasy half-deluded love a man never wholly loses for his mother ...

  • ... it must depend as much upon the patient's willingness to be cured, as upon the physician's skill in curing. There is neither force not magic in psychiatry.

  • When a reserved person once begins to talk, nothing can stop him; and he does not want to have to listen, until he has quite finished his unfamiliar exertion.

  • A man whose every exertion is bent upon showing up the flaws in his wife's character must be at least partially responsible for some of them.

  • Neither situations nor people can be altered by the interference of an outsider. If they are to be altered, that alteration must come from within.

  • ... where there is laughter there is always more health than sickness.

  • A red-hot belief in eternal glory is probably the best antidote to human panic that there is.

  • Neither saints nor angels have ever increased my faith in this enigma Life; but what are called 'common men and women' have increased it.

  • I wonder how often not the intention but the desire springs up in a doctor's mind: 'Can I let this human being out of the trap of Life?'

  • The only creative power I know is that of what might roughly be called 'love'; not of course a sentimental love: a far more impersonal and less individual emotion. I sometimes think that migratory birds may have it for each other. They fly in the same direction, and have never been seen to interfere with each other's flights.

  • ... can life be made undignified by any act of man?

  • Morale is not a single instinct. It has many ingredients. A sense of personal responsibility, the natural courage of an individual, the amount of his acquired self-discipline — and above all his interest in others — these together make up the spirit of morale.

  • ... all daughters, even when most aggravated by their mothers, have a secret respect for them. They believe perhaps that they can do everything better than their mothers can, and many things they can do better, but they have not yet lived long enough to be sure how successfully they will meet the major emergencies of life, which lie, sometimes quite creditably, behind their mothers.

  • Truth is no man's slave — but lies — what magnificent servants they make ...

  • Heroes are unpredictable. They can make nonsense of almost any obstacle.

  • Time indeed has very little to do with living except at its beginning or near its end.

  • Feelings change facts ...

  • ... the ears of the hunted grow even keener than a hunter's.

  • Taboos on the human heart are more dangerous than any risk we run by using our emotions. Sensation is the life of man; it is his actual energy. To suppress it is to lose creative power!

  • Elvira always lied first to herself before she lied to anybody else, since this gave her a conviction of moral honesty.

  • We cannot alter facts, but we can alter our ways of looking at them.

  • Truth, though it has many disadvantages, is at least changeless. You can always find it where you left it.

  • Luck enters into every contingency. You are a fool if you forget it — and a greater fool if you count upon it.

  • Some of us cling to our curses if we haven't anything better to cling to!

  • To see a shadow and think it is a tree — that is a pity, but to see a tree and think it is a shadow can be fatal.

  • A refugee is as helpless as a new born child — but not so appealing! Besides, a new born child has no memories!

  • Nothing ever really sets human nature free, but self-control.

  • Love comes into your being like a tidal wave ... sometimes it withdraws like a wave, till there isn't such a thing as a pool left, and every bit of your heart is as dry as seaweed beyond the wave's reach.

  • There are two ways of meeting difficulties: you alter the difficulties or you alter yourself meeting them.

    • Phyllis Bottome

Phyllis Bottome, English writer

(1884 - 1963)

Full name: Phyllis Bottome Forbes-Dennis.