Here is an excerpt from Nice Guys Finish Seventh. It’s a book about misquotations that looks interesting.
He’s right about the attribution of quotes:
To be accurate, therefore, reference books should attribute “No man who hates dogs and children can be all bad,” to the Times reporter. His name was Byron Darnton. Byron who? That’s just the point. Who’s heard of Byron Darnton? Yet most of us know the name W.C. Fields. This is why Fields routinely gets credit for someone else’s words. He probably always will.
Politicians have speech writers. Should the speech writers get the credit? Actors and studios have spin doctors. Should the quotes go to the spin doctor who thought of the saying? It’s all a very messy situation that we run into all the time at The Quotations Page.
If discussions like this interest you, look at our Quotations Forum:
We get a couple of questions every day there and it’s an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon: researching the origin of a quote.