Every three years for the last 257 years, the Memorable Quotations Society meets at a location in London’s South End, choosing another quotation from a previous year’s Quote Book, by open vote, as that year’s “Cite Majeure.” Majority wins in these votes, pushing the nugget of wisdom or wit to the forefront of that meeting’s conversations and symposiums.
A majority, however, is rarely the case, and so seniority of the voting members decides which quote will be published in the group’s tri-annual “Memorable Quotations by Memorable Quoters,” a humorously-named pamphlet published exclusively for circulation within and amongst the group.
Rarely, copies make their way outside of this circle, and the list of quotations, when and if released/exposed, is often cited as being of dubious origins by quotations experts, and is therefore as regularly dismissed and forgotten as it becomes a point of fleeting public interest. Naturally, these experts are often members of the MQS themselves and, therefore, of equally dubious origins.
For the past 17 years, I have aimed to put these quotes in the public eye. Since my own grandfather (pictured right), father and uncle were members of the MQS, a family history which reportedly goes back as far as the organization’s founding in the mid-1700s, my fascination with the society has grown exponentially over the years, especially when coupled with my own exclusion from the group due to not being the eldest child of a living member.
The club is so exclusive, in fact, that I am not certain which of my older brothers - twins - is a member. My assumption is that Gerald is the lucky one, having been born three minutes prior to Stephan. Such is the nature of elite study of the spoken word, which has led to many instances (I can only assume) of Stephan assuming Gerald’s identity, if only to secret away the latest MQBMQ.
I have, in my possession, 68 copies of the publication, beginning with a most-treasured inaugural edition from 1753, all the way through 2005’s edition, one of only three obtained by (and many expect created by) London street artist Banksy. This blog is an attempt to expose some of the stand-outs over the years. Not just the “best of” as majority (occasionally) determined, but those I find most intriguing and, given historical context and the fact that many of these have yet to previously see the light of day, those that shed light on the people we often think we know so well.
Thank you for your patronage. Quote well and quote wisely. Life is never so simple, or so true, as through the words of those we cherish.