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Writers, Authors and Journalists Insults
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I forgive your reviling of me: there's a shovelful of live coals for your head - does it burn? And am, with true affection - does it burn now? Ever yours, Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens (1812-70), letter to Walter Savage Landor
I hate the whole race of them, there never existed a more worthless set than Byron and his friends.
Duke of Wellington (1769-1852) on Lord Byron (1788-1824)
I have discovered that our great favourite, Miss Austen, is my countrywoman ... with whom mamma before her marriage was acquainted. Mamma says that she was then the prettiest, silliest, most affected husband hunting butterfly she ever remembers.
Mary Russell Mitford, letter to Sir William Elford (3 April 1815), on Jane Austen (1775-1817)
I have just read a long novel by Henry James. Much of it made me think of the priest condemned for a long space to confess nuns.
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) on Henry James
I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me.
Charles Darwin (1809-82) on William Shakespeare
I invariably miss most of the lines in the last act of an Ibsen play; I always have my fingers in my ears, waiting for the loud report that means that the heroine has just Passed On.
Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) on Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906)
I loathe you. You revolt me stewing in your consumption... the Italians were quite right to have nothing to do with you. You are a loathsome reptile - I hope you die.
D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930) to Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923), New Zealand author
I really enjoy his stage directions... He uses the English language like a truncheon.
Max Beerbohm (1872-1956) on George Bernard Shaw
I should never write on him as I detest him too much ever to trust myself as a critic of him.
Ezra Pound (1885-1972) on George Meredith (1828-1909)
I think of Mr Stevenson as a consumptive youth weaving garlands of sad flowers with pale, weak hands.
George Moore (1852-1933) on Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-94)
I want words sufficient to express thy viperous Treason... there never lived a viler viper on the face of the earth than thou.
Sir Edward Coke (1552-1634) to Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618), Elizabethan writer, courtier and explorer
I wish her characters would talk a little less like the heroes and heroines of police reports.
George Eliot on Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre
I wonder that he is not thrashed; but his littleness is his protection, no man shoots a wren.
William Broome on Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
If he hides in a quarry he puts reds flags all round
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) on T. E. Lawrence (1888-1935), writer and adventurer
If you imagine a Scotch commercial traveller in a Scotch commercial hotel leaning on the har and calling the harmaid Dearie, them you will know the keynote of Burns' verse.
A. E. Housman (1859-1936) on Robert Burns (1759-96)
I'm sure the poor woman meant well, but I wish she'd stick to recreating the glory that was Greece and not muck about with dear old modern homos.
Noel Coward (1899-1973) on Mary Renault, known for her historical fiction about Ancient Greece
In an old writer, and especially one of that age, I never saw so large a proportion of what truly be called either trash or ordure.
Robert Southey (1774-1843), British poet laureate, on Robert Herrick (1591-1674), English poet
In George Meredith there is nothing but crackjaw sentences, empty and unpleasant in the mouth as sterile nuts.
George Moore (1852-1933) on George Meredith (1828-1909)
In his endeavours to corrupt my mind he has sought to make me smile first at Vice, saying, 'There is nothing to which a woman may not be reconciled by repetition or familiarity.' There is no vice with which he has not endeavoured in this manner to familiarise me.
Annabella Milbanke, Lady Byron on her husband, Lord Byron
Is Wordsworth a bell with a wooden tongue?
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82) on William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

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