October 20, 2020

What famous people say about gossip


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I decided, at a reader’s request, to write about gossip and, along the way, to note what others have gossiped about it.

What might I say under the influence of a confessional potion when asked, “Why do you always talk about other people?”

I imagined my reply, “Apparently, because I have nothing much to say about myself.”

Before I turn to the quotes I picked for you, I can also pass along a couple of my own consolations:

  1. It’s a lot better to be interesting enough to be talked about than to be the interested party who’s doing the talking.
  2. Gossip’s empty gambits take place in a playground, actually, on a seesaw. The child who delights to babble sees you way up there ‘the higher the better’ and thinks that by putting you down he or she will put himself or herself up.

Now, this is what others have gossiped about it. It appears, not surprisingly, that brilliance has enlivened the subject only rarely.

  1. The trouble with her is that she lacks the power of conversation but not the power of speech. – George Bernard Shaw
  2. You know when it’s a secret, for it’s whispered every where. – William Congreve
  3. They come together like the Coroner’s Inquest, to sit upon the murdered reputations of the week. – Congreve
  4. I hate to spread rumours, but what else can you do with them? – Amanda Lear
  5. If you havení’ got anything good to say about anyone come and sit by me. -Alice Roosevelt Longworth
  6. She proceeds to dip her little fountain-pen filler into pots of oily venom and to squirt this mixture at all her friends. – Harold Nicolson
  7. I’m called away by particular business – but I leave my character behind me. – Richard Brinsley Sheridan
  8. Here is the whole set! A character dead at every word. – Same Sheridan
  9. There is only one thing in the world that is worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.î Oscar Wilde
  10. A professional athlete – of the tongue. -Aldous Huxley
  11. Social sewage. – George Meredith
  12. Foul whisperings. -William Shakespeare (Sometimes referred to in gossip as Billy Wigglestick)


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