Quote Origin: I Have Been Misquoted Everywhere, and the Inaccuracies Are Chasing Me Round the World
Question for Quote Investigator: Prominent Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw is a misquotation magnet. Numerous remarks have been ascribed to him that he never said. Apparently, he once grumbled about being “misquoted everywhere”. He believed that the inaccuracies were chasing him around the world. Would you please help me to find a citation.
Reply from Quote Investigator: In 1933 the “Daily Herald” of London printed a piece about George Bernard Shaw who complained that his recent conversation with Helen Keller had been misreported. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:¹
“I remember meeting her in London, as they say in their attacks, at Lady Astor’s. Conversation was difficult, as you would suppose, considering that she is both blind and deaf, and everything has to be spelt out by someone else on her fingers.
“She ‘sees’ you by feeling your face. It was rather embarrassing. It would have been in the worst possible taste to ignore her condition.
“I remarked, by way of a compliment, that she was wonderful, and added, jokingly, that she could see and hear better than her countrymen who could neither see nor hear.
“Someone takes a joking remark meant in all kindness and says I insulted Helen Keller by saying, ‘All Americans are deaf and blind — and dumb — anyway.’
“I tell you I have been misquoted everywhere, and the inaccuracies are chasing me round the world.”
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
In 1956 St. John Ervine, published “Bernard Shaw: His Life, Work, and Friends”. He mentioned the article in the “Daily Herald”, and he reprinted an excerpt:²
It was while he was on his way from Cherbourg to Southampton that he was interviewed by Mr Ritchie Calder. A report of the interview appeared in The Daily Herald on April 20, 1933. In its course, he complained with justifiable bitterness of the tales invented about him by cub reporters . . .
‘Someone takes a joking remark meant in all kindness and says I insulted Helen Keller by saying, “Oh, all Americans are deaf and blind and dumb anyway”. I tell you I have been misquoted everywhere, and the inaccuracies are chasing me round the world.’
In 1989 Paul F. Boller Jr. and John George published “They Never Said It” which included Shaw’s comment together with a citation pointing to St. John Ervine’s book.³
In 2006 Ralph Keyes published “The Quote Verifier”, and he also included Shaw’s comment together with a citation pointing to Ervine’s book.⁴
In conclusion, George Bernard Shaw deserves credit for this quotation about misquotation. Sadly, the number of statements incorrectly assigned to Shaw has continued to grow during the decades after his death.
Image Notes: Quotation marks from Gimp (GNU Image Manipulation Program).
Acknowledgement: Great thanks to the anonymous person whose inquiry led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration. The person wanted to know whether the “Daily Herald” article was available in a database. It is available in the British Newspaper Archive and the newspapers.com database.
 1933 April 20, Daily Herald, G.B.S Back From His Travels — and He’s Glad by Ritchie Calder (On the Empress of Britain), Quote Page 4, Column 4, London, England. (British Newspaper Archive)
 1956, Bernard Shaw: His Life, Work, and Friends by St. John Ervine, (St. John Greer Ervine), Chapter 166, Quote Page 531 and 532, William Morrow & Company, New York. (Verified with scans)
 1989, They Never Said It by Paul F. Boller, Jr. and John George, Person: George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950), Quote Page 117, Oxford University Press, New York. (Verified with scans)
 2006, The Quote Verifier by Ralph Keyes, Quote Page 191 and 325, St Martin’s Griffin, New York. (Verified with hardcopy)