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Josephine Tey

  • Weak people can be very stubborn.

  • After three days without one, the desire to read a newspaper vanished. And really, one was happier without.

  • The lawyer hummed and hawed, not because he had any real objections but because it is a lawyer's business to consider remote contingencies, and a straightforward agreement to anything would be wildly unprofessional.

  • ... all his life Toselli's smile had been stretched across his rage, like a tight-rope spanning a chasm ...

  • I expect this is what death is like when you meet it. Sort of wildly unfair but inevitable.

  • Fasting was good for the imagination but bad for logic.

  • Truth is often terribly thin, don't you think?

  • His wife had once shown him a bit in the Mail that said whistling was the sign of an empty mind. But it hadn't cured him.

  • Her talent lay exclusively in seeing that other people employed theirs.

  • Lucy decided to forget her weight just this once and enjoy herself. This was a decision she made with deplorable frequency.

  • ... she had been born without 'oil on her feathers'...

  • As a psychologist she began to suspect she was a very good teacher of French.

  • ...the builder had lacked an architect's eye. He had used the idiom of the time, but it had apparently not been native to him.

  • When a man had been a counsel in the criminal courts as long as Kevin had, his mind had only points of view, not convictions any more.

  • Lack of education is an extraordinary handicap when one is being offensive.

  • You can't have a tin can tied to your tail and go through life pretending it isn't there.

  • Horse sense is the instinct that keeps horses from betting on men.

  • Letterwriting is the natural outlet of the "odds." The busy-bodies, the idle, the perverted, the cranks, the feel-it-my-duties ... Also the plain depraved. They all write letters. It's their safe outlet, you see. They can be as interfering, as long-winded, as obscene, as pompous, as one-idea'd, as they like on paper, and no one can kick them for it. So they write. My God, how they write!

  • The worst of pushing horrible things down into one's subconscious is that when they pop up again they are as fresh as if they had been in a refrigerator. You haven't allowed time to get at them to—to mould them over a little.

  • Nothing in this world came out of satisfaction. Except the human race.

  • Riches ... don't consist in having things, but in not having to do something you don't want to do. ... Riches is being able to thumb your nose.

  • Charles loathed horses; which he held to be animals of an invincible stupidity, uncontrolled imagination, and faulty deduction.

  • It is not possible to love and be wise.

  • There's a strong aroma of sawn lady about this.

  • In hospitals there was no time off for good behavior.

  • Nothing puts things in perspective as quickly as a mountain.

  • It was pleasant to talk shop again; to use that elliptical, allusive speech that one uses only with another of one's trade.

  • The sorrows of humanity are no one's sorrows ... A thousand people drowned in floods in China are news: a solitary child drowned in a pond is tragedy.

  • Something between a sport and a religion.

  • ... 'grumbling' was a highly inadequate word to describe the blazing opposition that lighted Pat like a torch. He throbbed with it, like a car at rest with the engine running.

  • There were people whose only interest in life was writing letters. To the newspapers, to authors, to strangers, to City Councils, to the police. It did not much matter to whom; the satisfaction of writing seemed to be all.

  • That was the way with grief: it left you alone for months together until you thought that you were cured, and then without warning it blotted out the sunlight.

  • It is the utterly destructive quality. When you say vanity, you are thinking of the kind that admires itself in mirrors and buys things to deck itself out in. But that is merely personal conceit. Real vanity is something quite different. A matter not of person but of personality. Vanity says, "I must have this because I am me." It is a frightening thing because it is incurable.

Josephine Tey, Scottish playwright, writer

(1896 - 1952)

Josephine Tey was actually Elizabeth MacKintosh.  She also wrote under the pseudonym Gordon Daviot.