[Ads-l] Quote: Say anything you like about me, but spell my name right

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 20 22:09:46 UTC 2020

Nigel Rees, Fred Shapiro, Barry Popik, Stephen Goranson, and others
have explored quotations about publicity including the remark in the
subject line which is usually attributed to George M. Cohan based on a
1973 biography which specified a date of 1912.

The QI website now has an entry on this topic:

The earliest strong match I've located appeared in several U.S.
newspapers in 1888. The line was delivered by P. T. Barnum who was a
founder of Barnum & Bailey Circus. He also operated a museum filled
with curiosities and hoaxes:

[ref] 1888 August 8, The Evening News, The Table Gossip, Quote Page 4,
Column 1, Franklin, Pennsylvania. (Newspapers_com) [/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
P. T. Barnum was once interviewed by a woman who told him that she was
writing a book, and that it would contain something disagreeable about
him. “No matter, madam,” was his reply, “say anything you like about
me, but spell my name right -- P. T. B-a-r-n-u-m, P. T. Barnum -- and
I’ll be pleased anyway.” The blackmailer retired in confusion.
[End excerpt]

Feedback welcome

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list