Bartlett's Familiar Quotations

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BARTLETT'S FAMILIAR QUOTATIONS. First published in 1855 by Cambridge, Massachusetts, bookseller John Bartlett as A Collection of Familiar Quotations, this reference guide has enjoyed continuous commercial success while registering the changing shape of American public culture. Early editions comprised widely cited passages from the Bible, Shakespeare, and Anglo-American sentimental poetry. The ninth (1891) and tenth (1914) editions added ancient and early modern sources and the American favorites Thoreau and Whitman. Editors of the eleventh edition (1937) reconstructed the canon to stress literary prowess, with extensive material from recent modernists such as Joyce and Fitzgerald and such earlier innovators as Blake, Dickinson, Hawthorne, and Melville. Editions since 1948 have steadily expanded to include quotes from political leaders, academic intellectuals, world literature, women and other underrepresented voices, sports figures, movies, and popular musicians.


Cochrane, Kerry L. "'The Most Famous Book of Its Kind': Bartlett's Familiar Quotations." In Distinguished Classics of Reference Publishing. Edited by James Rettig. Phoenix, Ariz.: Oryx Press, 1992.

Katz, Bill. Cuneiform to Computer: A History of Reference Sources. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1998.

Rubin, Joan Shelley. The Making of Middlebrow Culture. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992. A good introduction to American literary history with bibliography.