[Ads-l] "That's all she wrote" (1935-1941)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Oct 20 08:28:33 UTC 2015

Fascinating. Impressive finds, Bonnie. Below is something that might
be pertinent.

By 1911 a song with missing words was in circulation. The song was
widely reprinted, and it was somehow used in a musical contest. The
final line of the song used an instance of the saying to denote a
conclusory outcome.

[Begin final line of song]
"We're married." This was all she wrote.
[End final line song]

This instance was literal and not figurative, but it may help to
illuminate the origin of the saying. The song was still circulating in
the 1930s. It was published in the "Evansville Courier and Press" of
Evansville, Indiana on September 27, 1931 (GenealogyBank).

Newspaper: The Charlotte News
Newspaper Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Date: October 29, 1911
Article: Novel Entertainments
Byline: Edited by Madamme Merri
Quote Page 9, Column 5 and 6
Database: Newspapers.com
Note: The word "sweetheart" was misspelled "sweethearat"

[Begin excerpt]
A  Musical  Contest.

Perhaps this will answer the corre-
spondent who requested a game suit-
able for a musical club. I found it in
a magazine and gladly pass it on:

Once on a ______ a lover bold
His sweetherat's hand essayed to _____.
And whisper _____ in her ear.
"You have the _____ to my heart, my
The maiden's heart _____ loud   and
For fear this _____ would not last.
This pretty maid was sore afraid
Whene'er her beau would _____
So _____ and shrewd was her papa,
He scented romance from afar,
One night her pa came with a _____
So large it made the neighbors laugh.
And when he knocked her lover _____
The maiden shrieked, "Oh, you _____
I pray you grant me one request,
Then in a convent I shall _____.
Give us a short _____ for some token.
And the tender _____ shall soon be
But up he sent her to her room.
And left the lover to his doom.
Then around her waist she _____ a
And soon descended to her lord.
Next day they sent her pa a _____:
"We're married." This was all she

Key.--Time, hold, softly, key, beat,
rhapsody, serenade, sharp, staff, flat,
stop, rest, space, tie, tied, chord, note.
[End excerpt]


On Mon, Oct 19, 2015 at 5:22 PM, Bonnie Taylor-Blake
<b.taylorblake at gmail.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Bonnie Taylor-Blake <b.taylorblake at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      "That's all she wrote" (1935-1941)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> In 2011 Michael Quinion posted about the idiom over at World Wide
> Words (link below).  There he mentioned some help he had gotten from
> Michael Templeton and, separately, from Garson O'Toole, both of whom
> located 1942 sightings of the expression.  You can read Michael's
> column here,
> http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-tha1.htm
> There was also an ADS-L conversation about this from the same time,
> the thrust of which Michael put into his column.
> Far below are some slightly earlier instances of "that's all she
> wrote," one left overly long for the sake of context.  Astute readers,
> Texans, and fans of Ernest Tubb will recognize that these all come
> from Texas newspapers.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list