>>Learn to communicate more deeply, effectively, compassionately.<<

A Quote
Site Map
What's New
Symbol Key
Contact Us

 For in-depth homework help and research including biography and history using recent full-length texts online, try Questia.com

Emerson: Biographies
Emerson Pictures
Emerson: Works
Emerson: Analysis
Emerson: Quotes
Emerson: Bibliography
Emerson: Books
Emerson: Related
Emerson: Commercial

Emerson: Quote Sites

Emerson Texts

Email this page
Print this page
Add to favorites
Track changes
Search the net


Support This Site

Related Sites:
Women's History
Famous Unitarian Universalists

Transcendentalists > Emerson > Quotes > Success


Don't miss: Posters on Success

One of the most popular quotations attributed to Emerson but almost certainly is not from Emerson.  Here's the quotation on success and some thoughts on where it might really be from:

To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded.

--- inaccurately attributed to
 Ralph Waldo Emerson

This quote is almost certainly not from Emerson, though it is often attributed to him. I have never been able to find it in any of Emerson's writings, nor has anyone else to my knowledge (and plenty of people have been looking).

As of now, it seems that the quote may be traceable to a 1905 publication by a Bessie Stanley. Apparently, in a collection of quotations on "success," her poem appeared on the facing page from a quotation which was from Emerson. Perhaps the mistaken attribution began when someone copied the source inaccurately from that collection. Here's a 1905 article from the Lincoln Sentinel about that version of the quote: Bessie Stanley's Famous Poem

Bessie Stanley's poem, though, is a bit different from the standard quotation attributed to Emerson -- and so there is still some tiny possibility that the quotation is Emerson's or someone else's and that Stanley's was a variation.  At this time, though, the most dependable attribution would be to Bessie Stanley, with the changes attributable to the normal folk process of adaptation and editing.

If you find an authentic source of the quote (that is, in an actual essay or work by Emerson published before 1905), please with the information so that I may confirm it and post the information!

All that said -- it just does not sound (to me) like Emerson's voice. I leave the decision to you, dear reader, with a link to a page- with some of this information detailed, at Dirk Kelder's Emerson and Thoreau site-.

For a similar story about the popular piece that begins, "If I had my life to live over I would pick more daisies," attributed to a Nadine Stair, see this essay- by Benjamin Rossen.

Emerson did write about success; it is not now online but I hope to add it to the Emerson Central site soon.

Note: If you have javascript enabled, you'll be able to see the link for my email address.  It's hidden to keep the "spam harvest robots" from finding it easily.  if you don't have javascript, see this page to send email.


Success Posters
To purchase any of the products below click on the image. All transactions are safe and secure with satisfaction guaranteed. This store is brought to you in association with AllPosters.com - The World's Largest Poster and Print Store.
Craig Tuttle - Success - Autumn Leaf Anonymous - Success
Success - Autumn Leaf
Craig Tuttle
22 in. x 28 in.
Buy Success - Autumn Leaf
Framed | Mounted

16 in. x 20 in.
Buy Success
Framed | Mounted

Success Success
28 in. x 22 in.
Buy Success
Framed | Mounted

36 in. x 24 in.
Buy Success
Framed | Mounted

Motivational - Success - Success Doesn't Come to You... Motivational - Success-Success Doesn't Come to You...
Success - Success Doesn't Come to You...
10 in. x 8 in.
Buy Success - Success Doesn't Come to You...
Framed | Mounted

Success-Success Doesn't Come to You...
30 in. x 24 in.
Buy Success-Success Doesn't Come to You...
Framed | Mounted

Success Success - Lighthouse
28 in. x 22 in.
Buy Success
Framed | Mounted

Success - Lighthouse
10 in. x 8 in.
Buy Success - Lighthouse
Framed | Mounted

Unknown - Success-Lighthouse Success - Skydivers
28 in. x 22 in.
Buy Success-Lighthouse
Framed | Mounted

Success - Skydivers
10 in. x 8 in.
Buy Success - Skydivers
Framed | Mounted

Unknown - Success  Sailboat Success
Success Sailboat
28 in. x 22 in.
Buy Success Sailboat
Framed | Mounted

34 in. x 24 in.
Buy Success
Framed | Mounted

Check out our categories!
Fine Art
Astronomy / Astrology
College Gallery
Comics / Cartoons / Anime
Motivational / Inspirational
Sci-Fi / Fantasy
Vintage Images

Hey Webmasters! - Make $$$
The AllPosters.com Affiliates Program is a great way to make money with your website. Link to AllPosters.com and earn commission on every purchase made by your site visitors. Click Here.


Jone Johnson
All rights

Contact us
for reprint

Transcendentalism ] Ralph Waldo Emerson ] Henry David Thoreau ] Others in the Circle ]
Home ] Discussions ] A Quote ] Posters ] Search ] Site Map ] What's New ] Symbol Key ] Contact Us ] Credits ]

How to cite this page: Plagiarism, Copyright and Citing Online Sources
Site or page last update and this page's URL:
Site editor's credentials

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More

Why Amazon.com links?

I do not write and maintain this site for a salary; my sole support for this site's expenses is the Amazon.com donation jar (above), and Amazon.com book links and other commercial links I've added to the site.  If you have Javascript enabled in your Internet browser, you'll see targeted suggestions on many of this site's pages. You can use the links to find books at the library or at your local bookstore, but buying books directly through the links on this site will help pay the cost of this site and help keep it online.

If you'd like to report an error or broken link, or suggest a link, please include this URL in your email: