Tuesday, February 13, 2007
What is Success? by Bessie A. Stanley
Success by Bessie Anderson Stanley
He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much; who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men, and the love of small children; who has filled his niche, and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth's beauty , or failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others, and given them the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory a benediction.
- - - Bessie Anderson Stanley
This was the prize-winning definition of success which won a contest sponsored by Brown book Magazine, Boston, circa 1904. I recently learned that this quote is commonly mis-attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson. The primary reason is that Anne Landers and Abigail Van Buren mis-attributed it in their popular syndicated advice columns. This is according to Ralph Keys who my local reference librarian tells me is a reliable source. Keys is the author of the Quote Verifier, Who said what where and when, published by St. Martin's Griffin, NY in 2006 Ralph Keys confirmed the real author is Bessie Anderson Stanley of Lincoln, Nebraska. She won a $250 prize and publication of her poem in 1905. Keys wrote that the poem has also been mis-attributed to aphorist Elber Hubbard, clergy man Harry Emerson Fosdick and author Robert Lewis Stevenson.
The following entry appeared in Dear Abbey February 1, 1992, Reference :The Record. Bergen County, N.J, p 2.
DEAR ABBY: I am finally writing to ask you to correct your Nov. 17, 1990, column that contained the definition of "Success" attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson. It was very similar to one written in 1904 by my grandmother, Bessie Anderson Stanley.
DEAR MR. [Arthur Stanley Harvey]: My apologies to your family. According to "Distilled Wisdom: An Encyclopedia of Wisdom in Condensed Form" by Alfred Armand Montapert, published by Prentice-Hall Inc., Bessie Anderson Stanley wrote the famous definition of success that was published in 1904 in Brown Book Magazine.
Another reference librarian told me of a a reference to the poem in an edition of Granger's Index to Poetry and Recitations from the early 1930's. It is listed under the title of "What is Success?" by Bessie A. Stanley, as printed in a volume called Heart Throbs v.2 that was published by Chapple Publishing Co. [Update 2-24-2007 See images of Heart Throbs Volume 2]
Here, according to Dirk Kelder of the Emerson Socicety who researched this quote in depth, is a different view of success. The author is unknown.
At age 4, success is...not peeing in your pants.
At age 12, success is...having friends.
At age 16, success is...having a driver's license.
At age 20, success is...having sex.
At age 35, success is...having money.
At age 40, success is...finding meaning & purpose to life.
At age 45, success is...finding meaning & purpose to life.
At age 50, success is...having money.
At age 60, success is...having sex.
At age 70, success is...having a driver's license.
At age 75, success is...having friends.
At age 80, success is...not peeing in your pants.