For all feminists and sticklers for proper quote attribution alike, the Yale Alumni Magazine has a wonderful must-read article setting the record straight on the real women who wrote famous lines either falsely attributed to men or long attribute to “anonymous”. (Virginia Woolf wrote that she “would venture to guess that Anon,
who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman”.)
Here is just a tantalizing example:
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
The French philosopher Voltaire is widely credited for what may be the most celebrated quotation about freedom of speech. Bartlett’s lists it under his name, calling it a paraphrase from his letter to a M. le Riche, February 6, 1770—but that attribution was based on a misreading. The quote does not appear in Voltaire’s letter to François-Louis-Henri Leriche of that date, nor anywhere else in Voltaire’s works. The real writer was Evelyn Beatrice Hall (1868–1919), English author of The Friends of Voltaire, a book she published in 1906 under the pseudonym S. G. Tallentyre. The illustrious line is Hall’s own characterization of Voltaire’s attitude. Discussing a book by one of his friends, she explains that even though he had thought the work rather light, he rose to its defense when it was censored.
via The Daily Dish, who profiled the real source behind a famous quote oft attributed to Emerson.