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Simran Khurana

Pop Quiz: Who Said, "If I Had More Time, I Would Have Written You a Shorter Letter?"

By January 8, 2008

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There are many popular answers. I have found this quotation being attributed to Hemingway, Cicero, Voltaire, Mark Twain, and Blaise Pascal. Until recently, I felt that this was Twain's work. But now I am fairly convinced that this is Blaise Pascal's work.


October 14, 2008 at 12:33 pm
(1) rjb says:

I’ve always believed this was Mark Twain’s work as well. According to brainyquote.com it is Blaise’s work.
I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had the time to make it shorter.

May 20, 2010 at 10:18 pm
(2) Chas says:

Actually, I’ve been told that President Lincoln wrote that.

June 4, 2010 at 10:50 pm
(3) Kevin C says:

This has long been attributed to Blaise Pascal.

Twain was not the only sardonic wit in the last few centuries.

July 12, 2010 at 5:18 am
(4) shashi says:

It is really surprising. But Mark Twain and Blaise Pascal both were exceptional contributor..

November 11, 2010 at 10:32 pm
(5) rob says:

i have to disagree. my understanding is that it was george bernard shaw who once wrote, “Sorry for the letter, i didn’t have time to write a postcard.”

January 26, 2011 at 12:14 pm
(6) Steve says:

It was the Canadian Poet T.S. Eliot

February 28, 2011 at 5:40 pm
(7) Jordan says:

Oh, my unknown friends, it goes further back than that. Voltaire, Virgil and others in my research have all laid claim to quote. My favorite version, however, was from an unknown speaker at a celebration in 2002 advising on what he was about to do: “Be brief, brother, be brief.”

April 7, 2011 at 9:32 am
(8) lfelipe says:

When Jean-Paul Sartre did his speech in the Sorbonne court in may 1968, someone put a placard before him: “Sartre, sois bref!”. Sartre, be brief!”
I saw it!

May 4, 2012 at 1:15 pm
(9) MCatherine says:

Apparently T.S. Elliot has also been cited!

March 29, 2013 at 7:22 am
(10) Martin says:

T.S. Eliot wasn’t Canadian. Though he was an Anglophile, he was an American, born and raised in St. Louis before eventually settling in England.

And I’ve also heard the quote attributed to Shaw.

April 16, 2013 at 3:21 pm
(11) DK says:

It was Edgar Allan Poe. He wrote that in a letter that he sent to his publisher requesting a loan. I would have to look it up to find the exact letter and date, however, I am 100% certain was Poe as I have everything he ever wrote and everything that was ever wrote about him.

August 8, 2013 at 11:55 am
(12) Diamond says:

I always thought Henry David Thoreau wrote this to Ralph Waldo Henderson? Every good writer needs a great editor.

April 19, 2014 at 7:45 pm
(13) K says:

An editor indeed – it is Ralph Waldo EMERSON.

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