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Working in the world of stationery, we often come across pen and writing quotes that really grab our attention. Some are funny, some provoke us to take time to think. This week we decided to share some of our favourite quotes with you to inspire some of your own writing.
How could we not start with what is perhaps the most famous pen quote of all? Despite its familiarity, how many of us know its origins? In 1839, English author, Edward Bulwer-Lytton coined this phrase in his play "Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy". The quote was coined perfectly in this play about Cardinal Richelieu. It represents the idea that communication far surpasses violence in efficacy. The successful performance of this play, attended by Queen Victoria, certainly had an impact on the quote’s eventual commonplace usage.
“True, This! —
Beneath the rule of men entirely great
The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold
The arch-enchanters wand! — itself is nothing! —
But taking sorcery from the master-hand
To paralyse the Cæsars, and to strike
The loud earth breathless! — Take away the sword —
States can be saved without it!”
As commonplace as the quotation written by Bulwer-Lytton became, earlier versions appear throughout history. For example, during the early 7th century BCE, Assyrian sage Ahiqar wrote the first known version of this quote, without the mention of pens. “The word is mightier than the sword.” If you wish to read a more thorough history into the origins of this most famous quote, Wikipedia does a wonderful job of digging up the many versions from Islamic sources, Biblical, and even Napolean Bonapart’s contribution.
The pen has facilitated civilization’s growth. Great works like Shakespeare’s plays, Horace’s poetry, Socrate’s philosophy, Newton’s discoveries or da Vinci’s many great contributions wouldn’t be common knowledge without the pen.
During the time of Emperor Augustus, 2000 years ago, the Roman poet Horace wrote “The pen is the tongue of the mind”. His implication is that just as your tongue speaks what your mind is thinking, your pen writes those same thoughts. Horace’s life ambition initially wasn’t to be a great poet due to his sardonic and sarcastic style, his writing became very popular and afforded us a lot of memorable quotes:
“Keep the faith”
“In love there are two evils: war and peace.”
“A picture is a poem without words”
“Seize the day, put no trust in the morrow/”
You can see from the above quotes that over the years they are used in popular songs “Keep the Faith” by Bon Jovi, and in book titles like “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy. We also sprinkle their use throughout our speech such as a picture is worth a thousand words, a version of Horace’s quote above.
Paul Arden worked in the advertising world and was responsible for famous campaigns such as British Airways, Toyota, and Margaret Thatcher’s political campaign. He was a successful published author and well-known for being difficult to work with but also generous and fun.
In 2003, in The Guardian, Jon Elek explains that Paul Arden believed that education wasn’t the answer but rather proving one’s self along the way. One of his books published in 2003, “It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be” clearly illustrates this idea. As does his quote above.
Pakistani education activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate loved school. However, when the Taliban took control of her town, girls were no longer allowed to go to school. Defying this order, Malala attended school and spoke out on behalf of girls’ right to get an education.
Speaking out publicly made her a target and she was shot in 2012. She survived the attack and made the decision to continue her fight. With her father’s help, she established the Malala Fund, a charity dedicated to giving girls the opportunity to achieve the future they choose. In 2014 she was the youngest recipient to receive the Nobel Prize for her work
American-born Josephine Baker was a French entertainer, civil rights activist and French Resistance agent. The first black woman to star in a major motion picture, she was also a dancer for the Folies Bergère in Paris where her outfit became an iconic image and symbol of the Jazz Age and Roaring Twenties.
After renouncing her American citizenship to raise her children in France, she was known for aiding the French Resistance and eventually awarded the Resistance Medal and the Croix de guerre and also named the Chevalier of the Legion d’honneur by Charles de Gaulle.
She is also noted for her contributions to the civil rights movement in the United States for refusing to perform for segregated audiences. However, she declined to become more involved after Martin Luther King’s assassination out of concern for her children.
Yiddish author of “Fiddler on the Roof”, Sholom Aleichem, born as Solomon Naumovich Rabinovich in the Soviet Union. In 1906 he immigrated to New York City. His writing was noted for the natural tone of his characters’ speech and his accurate descriptions of life. While it was believed the cheerfulness of his characters was a way of coping with adversity, the tragic side of his writing became more apparent. Referred to as a Jewish Mark Twain because of his similar writing style, upon hearing this, Mark Twain said, “please tell him that I am the American Sholom Aleichem.”
More on the power of the pen…Kamala Devid Harris is an American politician and attorney. She is currently the vice president of the United States and therefore the highest-ranking female official in U.S. history as well as the first Asian-American and African American vice president.
To end on a note of humour and truth, and bringing us back to where we started, is this take on the famous quote attributed to Horace: “The pen is mightier than the sword”. Martin Alan Feldman was a British actor, comedian and comedy writer, perhaps best known for his misaligned eyes. He initially worked as a writer but became a quirky film star in such movies as “Young Frankenstein” and “The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother”.
We hope you’ve found some inspiration in the quotes we’ve chosen for you today about pens. While they represent only a very small selection of pen quotes, we hope they cover a range of ideas and represent some of the best of what inspired people can create with a pen.