Rebecca West Quotes

Journalist, Writer, Biographer, Novelist, Critic, Book Reviewer, and Feminist

A black and white photo of a young Rebecca West.
“Indisputably the world’s number one woman writer.” ~ Time Magazine, 1947

Rebecca West was the pen name for Cicely Isabel Fairfield (1892 – 1983), a British writer who was known more for her writing talent than for any particular book.

West was no prisoner to one genre of writing, expressing herself in fiction, essays, letters, travel journals, and other non-fiction.

She has been heavily quoted for decades.

10 Favorite Quotes

You do not have to squint, you can click on each thumbnail above to read the larger version.

Rebecca West’s Early Publications and Non-fiction


Do you have a favorite Rebecca West quote?

A Good Idea at the Time

“If the whole human race lay in one grave,
the epitaph on its headstone might well be:
‘It seemed a good idea at the time’.”

~ Rebecca West

Which is more important – Idealism or Innocence?

“The great challenge of adulthood is holding on to your idealism after you lose your innocence.”

~ Bruce Springsteen

A Lot Can Happen in the Last Minute

Elaine, a long time BIWer member, shared a quote with the group today. Her accompanying explanation sums up the importance of never giving up on your writing goals. The goal obviously applies to so many things.

“If it weren’t for the last minute, a lot of things wouldn’t get done.”

That’s how writing – especially during BIW – some times seems to me. I’ve often only made my goal at the very last minute. Those of you who haven’t yet written or who haven’t yet made your goal, remember – there is always the last minute! Happy writing the rest of today and tomorrow – even till 8 a.m. Monday! Make those last minutes count!

Quote: Gertrude Stein

“Let me listen to me and not to them.”

~ Gertrude Stein

My New Theme Song

After hearing a darling little girl sing it on ER last night, this is my new theme song. Christina Aguilera and the Bratz both made made a version a few years back but I had never heard of it. I downloaded the Bratz version because it sounded a bit like the little girl when she picks up singing again at the end of the episode:

Beautiful (Written by Linda Perry)

Don’t look at me

Everyday is so wonderful
Then suddenly
It’s hard to breathe
Now and then I get insecure
From all the pain
I’m so ashamed

I am beautiful
No matter what they say
Words can’t bring me down
I am beautiful
In every single way
Yes words can’t bring me down
Ohh no
So don’t you bring me down today

To all your friends you’re delirious
You’re so consumed
In all your doom, ooh
Trying hard to fill the emptiness
The pieces gone
Left the puzzle undone
Ain’t that the way it is

‘Cause you are beautiful
No matter what they say
Words can’t bring you down
Ohh no
‘Cause you are beautiful
In every single way
Yes words can’t bring you down
Ohh no
So don’t you bring me down today

No matter what we do
(No matter what we do)
No matter what we say
(No matter what we say)
We’re the song inside the tune
(Yeah, oh yeah)
Full of beautiful mistakes

And everywhere we go
(And everywhere we go)
The sun will always shine
(The sun will always, always, shine)
And tomorrow we might awake
On the other side

‘Cause we are beautiful
No matter what they say
Yes words won’t bring us down
Ohh no
We are beautiful
In every single way
Yes words can’t bring us down
Ohh no
So don’t you bring me down today

Ooh, ohh
Don’t you bring me down today
Don’t you bring me down, ooh

Here is a clip from NBC with the little girl. If you slide the scale to the 1 minute mark you will skip the section that does not have the song. It is just a short clip and not the full song.

Literary Quotes

“Read in order to live.” — Gustave Flaubert

Everyone likes a good quote. Some people memorize them, some people print them out and post them at their desks, some people just like to collect them for the sake of collecting.

Looking for a quote? Like to receive literary quotes in your email? There are many websites offering quotations. If you’re looking for something specific it can difficult or time consuming to search. Following is a listing of websites whose main focus is sharing literary quotes.

  • louisa-may-alcottLitQuotes – features hundreds of literary quotes. Visitors can browse all the quotes or search for quotes by author, title or subject. The site is pretty crisp and clean, easy to manoeuvre.
  • Quoteland – Easy to read large print. Quotes sorted into nine topics headings. Discussion group area to talk with others about quotes. Helpful faq on how to use their page and search function. You can sign up with your email to receive a quote of the week. If you really like the quotes you find you can click on an icon to have them engraved on a mug, bookmark t-shirt� you get the picture.
  • The Quotations & Sayings Database – Excellent place to search for sayings if are unsure of the complete quote. Search the words you have.

What To Do With Them

10 tips for using literary quotes

1. One of the most common ones I’ve seen is using them in the signature line of your email. You’ll have to check the properties of your email program to see how to do it. I’ve picked up many a good quote from someone’s signature line.

2. If you are a fan of blank greeting cards you can use inspirational or uplifting quotes to decorate the inside. They are good space fillers if you are lacking the words yourself.

3. They make great additions to website content and again are a good filler for white space. Use them has subheadings on related pages.

4. Use as writing prompts for journaling or freewriting. Sit down with your book and pen, write the quote at the top of the page then write whatever comes into your mind relating to the quote. For quotes and other writing prompts check out The Write Prompts blog.

5. Print some out on some pretty paper and post them on your fridge and filing cabinet. Change them every week.

6. Short ones can be written on the back of your business card when you hand them out.

7. Send electronic postcards. BellaOnline has many postcards with quotes. Feel free to send them to your friends and family.

8. They are a wonderful icebreaker for starting off a presentation or other public speaking engagement.

9. Quotes make excellent additions to album margins of scrapbooks.

10. You can keep inspirational ones on slips of paper in a jar (or decorative box) on your desk and slip one out when you need some motivation. It goes right back in afterward. Be sure to add new ones occasionally.

Happy quote hunting.

Originally published 9/12/2005 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnline