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PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2002 6:44 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 04, 2002 3:01 pm
Posts: 1681
In your quotes by author section, I was curious to see if you had
"I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it" attributed to Voltaire, and there it is.

First, I thought there might be mention of the fact that "Voltaire" is a pen name for Francois Marie Arouet. He adopted the pen name while in prison writing "Oedipe." See

Second, the quote in question is a 20th century fabrication that was associated with Voltaire and has stuck to him like cement.
Some exerpts from the noted webpage:
"The phrase
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" is widely attributed to Voltaire, but cannot be found in his writings. With good reason. The phrase was invented by a later author as an epitome of his attitude. It appeared in The Friends of Voltaire (1906), written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall under the pseudonym S[tephen] G. Tallentyre"
Hall wrote:
...The men who had hated [the book], and had not particularly loved Helvetius, flocked round him now. Voltaire forgave him all injuries, intentional or unintentional. 'What a fuss about an omelette!' he had exclaimed when he heard of the burning. How abominably unjust to persecute a man for such an airy trifle as that! 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,' was his attitude now. But he soon came, as a Voltaire would come, to swearing that there was no more materialism in 'On the Mind' than in Locke, and a thousand more daring things in 'The Spirit of Laws.'
Hall herself claimed later that she had been paraphrasing Voltaire's words in his Essay on Tolerance:
"Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too."
Hall died in 1919.
~found at: http://www.plexoft.com/SBF/V02.html
Also, take a look at

Possibly you already knew all this, but if not, you most certainly should find it interesting.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2002 2:58 am 
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Site Admin

Joined: Wed Apr 03, 2002 12:45 am
Posts: 497
Location: Utah
Interesting indeed - I knew the quotation was one of those "They Never Said It" attributions, but didn't know the exact details.

I kept the quotation under Voltaire (I like it and we can't let the facts stand in the way :) ) but listed it as (attributed) and included the details of its true origin.

As for Voltaire's real name, that will be included in the biographical information that will start appearing on this site in a week or two. Voltaire, Twain, Shakespeare, and other oft-quoted folk will be the first to have biographies added.

Michael Moncur
Owner and maintainer, The Quotations Page

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