Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD REFERENCE ( (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2013. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single entry from a reference work in OR for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 22 April 2019

The Family 

  1. He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief.
    Francis Bacon 1561–1626 English lawyer, courtier, philosopher, and essayist: Essays (1625) ‘Of Marriage and the Single Life’; see Lucan
  2. The worst families are those in which the members never really speak their minds to one another; they maintain an atmosphere of unreality, and everyone always lives in an atmosphere of suppressed ill-feeling.
    Walter Bagehot 1826–77 English economist and essayist: The English Constitution (ed. 2, 1872) introduction
  3. I have never understood this liking for war. It panders to instincts already catered for within the scope of any respectable domestic establishment.
    Alan Bennett 1934–  English dramatist and actor: Forty Years On (1969) act 1
  4. We begin our public affections in our families. No cold relation is a zealous citizen.
    Edmund Burke 1729–97 Irish-born Whig politician and man of letters: Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
  5. [It is] time to turn our attention to pressing challenges like…how to make American families more like the Waltons and a little bit less like the Simpsons.
    George Bush 1924–  American Republican statesman, 41st President 1989–93: speech, Neenah, Wisconsin, 27 July 1992
  6. Having one child makes you a parent; having two you are a referee.
    David Frost 1939–2013 English broadcaster and writer: in Independent 16 September 1989
  7. I am the family face;
    Flesh perishes, I live on,
    Projecting trait and trace
    Through time to times anon,
    And leaping from place to place
    Over oblivion.
    Thomas Hardy 1840–1928 English novelist and poet: ‘Heredity’ (1917)
  8. Far from being the basis of the good society, the family, with its narrow privacy and tawdry secrets, is the source of all our discontents.
    Edmund Leach 1910–89 English anthropologist: BBC Reith Lectures, 1967, in Listener 30 November 1967
  9. One would be in less danger
    From the wiles of the stranger
    If one's own kin and kith
    Were more fun to be with.
    Ogden Nash 1902–71 American humorist: ‘Family Court’ (1931)
  10. There is a proverb often quoted by young married couples in China, both Nationalist and Indo—
    ‘When grandparents enter door, discipline fly out window.’
    Ogden Nash 1902–71 American humorist: ‘Whose Baby?—A Brief Introduction To Grandparents’ (1962)
  11. For there is no friend like a sister
    In calm or stormy weather.
    Christina Rossetti 1830–94 English poet: ‘Goblin Market’ (1862)
  12. The family—that dear octopus from whose tentacles we never quite escape.
    Dodie Smith 1896–1990 English novelist and dramatist: Dear Octopus (1938)
  13. I detest collaterals. Blood may be thicker than water, but it is also a great deal nastier.
    Edith Œ Somerville 1858–1949 and Martin Ross 1862–1915 Irish writers: Some Experiences of an Irish R.M. (1899)
  14. Family!…the home of all social evil, a charitable institution for comfortable women, an anchorage for house-fathers, and a hell for children.
    August Strindberg 1849–1912 Swedish dramatist and novelist: The Son of a Servant (1886)
  15. If a man's character is to be abused, say what you will, there's nobody like a relation to do the business.
    William Makepeace Thackeray 1811–63 English novelist: Vanity Fair (1847–8) ch. 19
  16. All happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
    Leo Tolstoy 1828–1910 Russian novelist: Anna Karenina (1875–7) pt. 1, ch. 1 (tr. A. and L. Maude)
  17. Relations are simply a tedious pack of people, who haven't got the remotest knowledge of how to live, nor the smallest instinct about when to die.
    Oscar Wilde 1854–1900 Irish dramatist and poet: The Importance of Being Earnest (1899) act 1
  18. It is no use telling me that there are bad aunts and good aunts. At the core, they are all alike. Sooner or later, out pops the cloven hoof.
    P. G. Wodehouse 1881–1975 English writer; an American citizen from 1955: The Code of the Woosters (1938) ch. 2