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England

  • It is seldom that the imagination is disappointed in the 'ancestral piles' of England.

  • I'm convinced England's overflowing with eccentric people, places, happenings. Indeed, you might say eccentricity's normal in England.

  • ... those comfortably padded lunatic asylums which are known, euphemistically, as the stately homes of England.

    • Virginia Woolf,
    • "Outlines: Lady Dorothy Nevill," The Common Reader, 1st series ()
  • It is possible to eat English piecrust, whatever you may think at first. The English eat it, and when they stand up and walk away, they are hardly bent over at all.

  • Englishwomen's shoes look as if they had been made by someone who had often heard shoes described, but had never seen any ...

  • The English never smash in a face. They merely refrain from asking it to dinner.

  • From a purely tourist standpoint, Oxford is overpowering, being so replete with architecture and history and anecdote that the visitor's mind feels dribbling and helpless, as with an over-large mouthful of nougat.

  • I was well warned about English food, so it did not surprise me, but I do wonder, sometimes, how they ever manage to prise it up long enough to get a plate under it.

  • Listening to Britons dining out is like watching people play first-class tennis with imaginary balls.

  • ... rain is one thing the British do better than anybody else.

  • Well-bred English people never have imagination ...

  • ... Britain possesses no climate, only weather.

  • Here is one of the points about this planet which should be remembered; into every penetrable corner of it, and into most of the impenetrable corners, the English will penetrate. They are like that; born invaders. They cannot stay at home.

  • England is an aquarium, not a nation.

  • There is something infinitely dingy about the word workshop. Pray that England doesn't become a nation of workshopkeepers.

  • Englishmen have a genius for looking uncomfortable. Their feelings are terribly mixed up with their personal appearance.

  • Speech with him was a convenience, like a spoon; he did not use it oftener than was necessary. In England that is not very often, such a great deal is taken for granted there; it is a kind of cult to know how much you may leave unsaid. You inherit accumulations of silence, and Kaye belongs to a very old family.

  • A Whistler mist washes the Thames beneath our Savoy windows, turning time back a century, softening the roar of the city and the bong of Big Ben. Claudia Cassidy,

  • Tea! The English could always be pacified with it!

  • Nobody is healthy in London, nobody can be.

  • Ah, there's nothing like tea in the afternoon. When the British Empire collapses, historians will find that it had made but two invaluable contributions to civilization — this tea ritual and the detective novel.

  • [He shook] his intended father-in-law's hand with that violence which expresses so much to English feelings ...

  • England, where nobody ever says what they mean: and by denying feeling, kill it off stone-cold at the roots ...

  • The English possess too many agreeable traits to permit them to be as much disliked as they think and hope they are.

  • English civilization rests largely upon tea and cricket, with mighty spurts of enjoyment on Derby Day, and at Newmarket.

  • It is claimed that the United States gets the cleanest and purest tea in the market, and certainly it is too good to warrant the nervous apprehension which strains and dilutes it into nothingness. The English do not strain their tea in the fervid fashion we do. They like to see a few leaves dawdling about the cup. They like to know what they are drinking.

  • This Englishwoman is so refined / She has no bosom and no behind.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "This Englishwoman," A Good Time Was Had by All ()
  • Suicide and antipathy to fires in a bedroom seem to be among the national characteristics. Perhaps the same moral cause may originate both.

  • English people ... never speak, excepting in cases of fire or murder, unless they are introduced.

  • An Englishman is never afraid of being laughed at. He just thinks the other fellow is a fool. But Americans still can't risk anybody laughing at them.

  • I looked out of the train window and all I could see was rain and fog. 'I know I'm going to love Manchester,' I told Jim, 'if I can only see it.'

  • ... the English don't go in for imagination: imagination is considered to be improper if not downright alarmist.

  • In the end, in England, when you want to find out how people are feeling, you always go to the pubs.

    • Martha Gellhorn,
    • "It Don't Matter Who Gets In, Dear," in The New Republic ()
  • Cecilia's lunch party, having heard through the open door the first phrase of the interlude, had exchanged less than a glance and, all raising their voices, maintained a strenuous conversation till she came back. They were not English for nothing.

  • I had always been so much taken with the way all English people I knew always were going to see their lawyer. Even if they have no income and do not earn anything they always have a lawyer.

  • The days are, happily, now long past when the cherished tradition of the Englishwoman, that one's oldest and worst garments possessed the most suitable characteristics for wear in travelling, excited the derision of foreign nations, and made the British female abroad an object of terror and avoidance to all beholders.

  • Perhaps I love England most for its paths. They lead across pastures and cultivated fields, over stiles and through gates, into valleys and over hills, along the banks of rivers and canals, beside lakes and ponds, atop mountain ridges and seaside cliffs, past moors, meadows, bogs, and dunes, and through every English garden.

  • What impressed me most about English gardens was their generosity of spirit, an exuberant lavishness that could not always be contained within strict squares or rectangles. ... I discovered cultivated flowers that soared on trellises, curved along winding paths, tumbled over walls, popped up between stones on a terrace, clustered in hidden corners like gossiping friends at a tea party, and crowded each other to show off their colors in mixed borders.

  • I came to regard England as a giant conservatory without glass.

  • [On the English climate:] People get a bad impression of it by continually trying to treat it as if it was a bank clerk, who ought to be on time on Tuesday next, instead of philosophically seeing it as a painter, who may do anything so long as you don't try to predict what.

  • ... when it's three o'clock in New York, it's 1938 in London.

    • Bette Midler,
    • in James Spada, The Divine Bette Middler ()
  • I am American bred / I have seen much to hate here — much to forgive / But in a world where England is finished and dead, / I do not wish to live.

  • He replied readily, but with that indomitable British accent which exemplifies the ability of the English to withstand foreign influences.

  • Like all weddings it had left the strange feeling of futility, the slight sense of depression that comes to English people who have tried, from their strong sense of tradition, to be festive and sentimental and in high spirits too early in the day.

  • A butler in an English household should, however, be English, and as much like an archbishop as possible.

    • Ada Leverson,
    • 1903, in Charles Burkhart, Ada Leverson ()
  • Fog and hypocrisy — that is to say, shadow, convention, decency — these were the very things that lent to London its poetry and romance.

  • I saw the spires of Oxford / As I was passing by, / The grey spires of Oxford / Against a pearl-grey sky; / My heart was with the Oxford men / Who went abroad to die.

  • True Brits loathe newness, and display a profound fear of change. ... (Britain is the heartland of 'We've Always Done It This Way.') Conclusion: change nothing unless forced. Remember that God usually gets it right the first time.

  • Englishmen are said to love their laws; — that is the reason, I suppose, they give us so many of them, and in different editions.

  • [Asked if she thought class barriers had come down:] Of course they have, or I wouldn't be sitting here talking to someone like you.

  • [On England:] In this country there are only two seasons, winter and winter.

  • People in England who do not like gardening are very few, and of the few there are, many do not own to it, knowing that they might just as well own to having been in prison, or got drunk at Buckingham Palace.

  • There is no second country for an Englishman, except a ship and the sea.

  • Her audience looked on at first with the embarrassed or hostile air which is the Englishman's natural protection against the great things of art ...

  • But education has always been the Cinderella of politics; this nation apparently does not love to be taught!

  • [The English] find ill-health not only interesting but respectable and often experience death in the effort to avoid a fuss.

  • It has been said that the only reason for leaving England is to give yourself the pleasure of coming back to it.

  • Whatever laudable qualities the English may possess in their selection, preparation, and consumption of food, elegance, originality, diversity, and imagination are not among them.

  • ... England that little gray island in the clouds where governments don't fall overnight and children don't sell themselves in the street and my money is safe.

  • In England, life is a long process of composing oneself ...

  • She respected Americans: they were not like the English, who, under a surface of annoying moroseness of manner, were notoriously timid and easy to turn round your finger.

  • Wonderful, mysterious, grand, clever old England, who keeps the Ritz Hotel front-door closed on Sundays and the side-door open!

  • It's a useful rule in Anglo-American communications that the English should double, and the Americans halve, the number of words they would normally employ.

  • It's not that hard to be glamorous in England.

  • ... English tradition debars from dinner-table conversation almost all topics that might interest the conversers and insists upon strict adherence to banalities.

  • Whoever considers England will find itt no small favour of God to have bene made one of its natives ...

  • What Americans call cross-ventilation, the English call draughts.

  • Contrary to popular belief, English women do not wear tweed nightgowns.

  • England is a country where people stay exactly as they are. The soul does not receive the slightest jolt.

  • But the English do not know what surprise is. No one ever turns his head to look at anyone else in the street.

  • The English have no imagination: and yet they do show imagination in two things — two only. In the evening-clothes worn by old ladies, and in their cafés.

  • ... I begin to suspect that England is the most melancholy country in the world.

  • England is the only civilised country in the world where it is etiquette to fall on the food like a wolf the moment it is served. Elsewhere it is comme il faut to wait until everybody has helped himself to everything and until everything on everybody's plate is stone cold.

  • The English inn stands permanently planted at the confluence of the roads of history, memory, and romance.

  • The trouble about most Englishwomen is that they will dress as if they had been a mouse in a previous incarnation, or hope to be one in the next.

    • Edith Sitwell,
    • "How to Wear Dramatic Clothes," in Elizabeth Salter and Allanah Harper, eds., Edith Sitwell: Fire of the Mind ()
  • ... the English, although partakers in the most variable and quixotic climate in the world, never become used to its vagaries, but comment upon them with shock and resentment as if all their lives had been spent in the predictable monsoon.

  • Americans ... are a nation of salesmen just as the English are a nation of small shopkeepers.

  • An enraged Briton does not paw the ground, he writes to the papers ...

  • The stately Homes of England, / How beautiful they stand!

    • Felicia Hemans,
    • "The Homes of England," The Poetical Works of Felicia Dorothea Hemans ()
  • Gardening in England is a hobby, about midway on the social scale between throwing darts and composing sonnets.

    • Abby Adams,
    • "What Is a Garden Anyway?" in Jane Garmey, ed., The Writer in the Garden ()