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Patricia Wentworth

  • Money's a very serious thing — especially when you haven't got any.

  • The Press wants facts, but it don't want plain facts. It wants facts viewed through the medium of imagination. ... You take a handful of dry stones ... and put them at the bottom of a stream and let the water run over them, and what have you got? They're still facts — you're not going to deny that. They're just as much facts as they were when you'd got them dry in your hand — but you're not yawning over them any more — they're not dry any more — they're a handful of jewels — they've got light and color, and movement — the water's made them come alive. Well, that's what imagination does to facts — it makes them come alive. And the Press wants live facts — not dead ones that are going to make people yawn their heads off.

  • Most of the things one worries about never happen.

  • To be always right — was there a more enraging faculty in the world? Was it a faculty, or a virtue? If it was a virtue, it was certainly the most disagreeable of all the virtues — a tyrannical prig of a virtue, the sort of virtue which makes you want to go and wallow in vice.

  • When you've just made the most complete fool of yourself, you feel the need of a specially high horse to ride.

  • Once a suggestion has entered the general atmosphere of human thought, it is very difficult to neutralise it.

  • Children want one thing at a time, and want that one thing passionately.

  • It is the man who is sure of himself who disregards the opinion of the world. To be sure is to have power.

  • ... any road is bound to arrive somewhere if you follow it far enough.

    • Patricia Wentworth,
    • Run!
    • ()
  • ... our old nurse used to say, 'If you don't trouble trouble, trouble won't trouble you,' and, 'Let sleeping dogs lie.'

    • Patricia Wentworth,
    • Run!
    • ()
  • To Jackson the human leg was an obsolete form of conveyance. To use it betokened extreme penury or a barbaric devotion to exercise.

    • Patricia Wentworth,
    • Run!
    • ()
  • [On money:] It's a servant, and like all servants you've got to look out it doesn't get the upper hand. Use it, work it, don't let it drive you, don't let yourself think you can't do without it, don't let yourself believe for a single moment that it can give you any value you haven't got already. It's the other way round. It's you who give money its value by the way you spend it.

  • He was in tweeds, baggy, hideous, comfortable. Like his curtains and his carpet, they inclined towards mustard in colour — old mustard, dried in the pot — but there was a pink over-check. Altogether one of the more painful examples of a notoriously distressing wardrobe.

  • The words in which these views were expressed were as offensive as conviction and years of practice could make them.

  • A lie that is half a truth is ever the hardest to fight.

  • My dear father always said that when everybody had a telephone nobody would have any manners, because there wouldn't be time for them. And of course he was perfectly right ...

  • Tanis was an underminer, but people can't undermine you if you don't let yourself be undermined.

  • Love and a cold cannot be hid. It is, I believe, a Spanish proverb.

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

  • ... if you cannot get what you want, common sense suggests that you should put your mind to wanting what you can get.

  • Give 'em an inch and they'll take an ell ...

  • ... husbands and wives quarrel a lot more than anyone thinks, and it's oftener about little things than big ones ...

  • There is a country proverb which says, 'If you don't trouble trouble — trouble won't trouble you.'

  • Infallibility requires a great deal of charm to carry it off. Unfortunately, Albert was deficient in charm.

  • Emotion which you do not share can become intolerable.

  • ... when married people begin to talk about their rights, it means something has gone pretty far wrong between them.

  • Mary Stuart wrote, 'My end is in my beginning.' It is easier to agree with her than to decide what is the beginning, and what is the end.

  • ... there are virtues which are very well in the abstract, but which, encountered in the flesh, can be a source of extreme irritation.

  • I bore you and I nursed you, you were flesh and blood and bone of me. / I toiled for you and loved you, but you've gone from me and grown from me. / Oh, once you were my little maid, but now you've travelled far. / For it's a grown woman, a grown woman, and a stranger that you are.

  • John went up in the world — made a ladder of his brains and climbed.

  • It was only among your own people that you didn't need to shine, because that wasn't what mattered. Your own people were your own people. You could take them for granted, and be taken for granted by them. The bosom of the family was an extraordinarily restful place.

  • Like so many well-meaning people, he was given to doubts when they could no longer serve any useful purpose.

  • It's surprising how soon you can get used to having money. It's much easier than getting used to not having it.

  • You cannot divide minds into sexes. Each human being presents an individual problem.

  • Being in a rage was rather like being out in a thunderstorm — you couldn't hear yourself think.

  • The fact is, people who don't have any misfortunes are very irritating to their neighbours. No opportunities for popping in with condolences and new-laid eggs. No visits to the afflicted. No opportunities for the milk of human kindness to flow. Naturally it doesn't.

  • Anger was both a disfiguring and a revealing passion.

  • ... he was certainly in the mood in which a man feels that he has been let down, and casts about him for someone to take the blame.

  • Nobody likes to be accused of a virtue.

  • I do not approve of children being beaten. It is always a confession of failure.

  • There's a general consensus of opinion that people in love are apt to look silly — except to each other.

  • Her own sense of superiority was largely maintained by the contemplation of other people's faults.

  • ... happy people have got something to give to the world.

  • It is always better to say too little than too much.

  • She had the air of someone who walked among her own thoughts and found them sufficient company.

  • You can't do such a lot and do it all so well and have much time left for the ordinary human feelings.

  • One cannot withdraw from the life of the community. Injury to one member of it cannot fail to be the concern of all.

  • ... it was his rooted belief that an unlocked door or window would instantly attract a burglar.

  • Simplicity is the most difficult thing in the world to ape.

  • ... people who lost their tempers were never much more than five years old.

  • The most trying moments in human experience were those in which there was nothing to be done except to wait.

  • Take things as they come. Take things as they are. What does it matter? There's one end to everything.

  • You end up as you deserve. In old age you must put up with the face, the friends, the health, and the children you have earned.

    • Patricia Wentworth,
    • Praxis
    • ()
  • I used to do miserably in English literature, which I thought was a sign of moral turpitude. As I look back on it, I think it was rather to my credit. The notion of actually putting writers' words into other words is quite ridiculous because why bother if writers mean what they mean, and if they don't, why read them? There is, I suppose, a case for studying literary works in depth, but I don't quite know what 'in depth' means unless you read a paragraph over and over again.

    • Patricia Wentworth,
    • in Nina Winter, Interview With the Muse ()
  • A good many established writers seem to have the feeling that some day they are going to be found out, revealed as frauds.

    • Patricia Wentworth,
    • in Nina Winter, Interview With the Muse ()
  • There is and always has been for me a peculiar need to write. This is very different from wanting to be a writer. To be a writer always seemed something so far removed from my talents and abilities and imaginings that it didn't afflict me at all as a notion when I was young. But I was always conscious that I wanted to write.

    • Patricia Wentworth,
    • in Nina Winter, Interview With the Muse ()
  • ... it isn't good tactics to ask for something that you know will be refused.

  • There is no welcome like a fire.

  • Too much information can be as disconcerting as too little.

  • When there is too much to say it is easier to say nothing at all.

  • ... the things that happened in your body were never as bad as the things that happened in your mind.

  • Things you can't understand are always the hardest to bear. To know why is the first step to consolation.

  • Conversation with Albert was instructive rather than entertaining ... a mine of information produced in such a manner as to rob it of any possible spark of interest.

Patricia Wentworth, English writer

(1878 - 1961)

Real name: Dora Amy Elles Dillon Turnbull.