FACT CHECK: Did Mark Twain Say, ‘The Man Who Does Not Read Has No Advantage Over The Man Who Cannot Read’?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared on Facebook credits American writer Mark Twain with saying, “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”

Verdict: False

There is no substantive evidence that Twain ever said or wrote this saying.

Fact Check:

The internet is replete with quotes attributed to Twain, the author of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “Life on the Mississippi.” However, some of these sayings turn out to be apocryphal, as is the case with this quote about literacy. (RELATED: Did Mark Twain Pen This Quote On Kindness?)

The Daily Caller News Foundation searched a collection of Twain’s written body of work, as well as “The Quotable Mark Twain,” which contains more than 1,800 verified quotes, but found no record of the statement.

“There is no evidence the quote originated with Mark Twain,” says Barbara Schmidt, a Twain researcher and writer for the Center for Mark Twain Studies that lists the quote as “unverified” on her website, in an email to the DCNF.

The website Quote Investigator traced the earliest strong match of the expression back to a 1914 periodical, though conceptually-related phrases appeared earlier. The unattributed quote was utilized in an attempt to stop people from throwing away the advertisement without reading it, according to Quote Investigator.

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Reporter
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