FACT CHECK: Did T.S. Eliot Say This Quote About The Importance Of Libraries?
A post shared on Facebook claims poet T.S. Eliot once said, “The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man.”
The saying does not appear in any of Eliot’s writings.
Thomas Stearns Eliot, better known as T.S. Eliot, was an American poet who won the Nobel Prize in 1948. His poems, including “The Waste Land” and “Four Quartets,” helped establish him as an important figure in the 20th century modernist movement.
On the T.S. Eliot Society’s list of popular quotes, the quote attributed to Eliot in the Facebook post is categorized as “source unknown.”
“We have been asked about this quote before, and we put out a call to our members here in the U.K. — but no-one could provide a source for it!” Paul Keers, chair of the T.S. Eliot Society, told the DCNF in an email.
Another expert, John Carroll University associate english professor Jayme Stayer, noted that the quote sounded like something Eliot would have said.
The earliest known variation of the expression dates back to 1992, where it appears in author and former librarian Jayne Ann Krentz’s novel “Perfect Partners,” according to the website Quote Investigator. It has been attributed to Eliot since at least 1999, though it’s unclear how the quote became linked to him.
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