Kingsley Amis

English novelist, poet, critic, teacher

Sir Kingsley William Amis (16 April 192222 October 1995) was an English novelist, poet, critic, teacher, and father of novelist Martin Amis.

There was no end to the ways in which nice things are nicer than nasty ones.


  • More will mean worse.
    • Encounter magazine (July 1960)
    • Referring to the imminent expansion of higher education.
  • A bad review may spoil your breakfast, but you shouldn't allow it to spoil your lunch.
    • Attributed in Aren't We Due a Royalty Statement? (1993) by Giles Gordon, and The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (1999) by Elizabeth M. Knowles, p. 14

Lucky Jim (1954)Edit

  • Your attitude measures up to the two requirements of love. You want to go to bed with her and can't, and you don't know her very well. Ignorance of the other person topped up with deprivation, Jim. You fit the formula all right, and what's more you want to go on fitting it.
  • There was no end to the ways in which nice things are nicer than nasty ones.

A Case of Samples: Poems 1946–1956 (1956)Edit

  • Man's love is of man's life a thing apart;
    Girls aren't like that.
    • "A Bookshop Idyll"
    • Cf. Lord Byron, Don Juan, "Man's love is of man's life a thing apart, / 'Tis woman's whole existence."

Take a Girl Like You (1960)Edit

  • A great British prime minister once remarked that the people were divided into two nations, the rich and the poor, and in effect that these had no knowledge of each other. One might say the same, perhaps, of those who live in parts of the world where segregation by races is practised. But these barriers, or the reasons for them, belong to a part of our history which is fortunately passing away. There is one barrier, however, which no amount of progress or tolerance or legislation can ever diminish. I'm talking about the barrier between the attractive and the unattractive.
    • Ch. 17
  • Friendship includes charity. But there's no charity in sex.
    • Ch. 17
  • 'You're still the same girl. What people do doesn't change their nature.'
    She shook her head.[…] 'What they do is their nature,' she said.
    • Patrick Standish and Jenny Bunn in Ch. 27

One Fat Englishman (1963)Edit

  • It was no wonder that people were so horrible when they started life as children.

I Want It Now (1968)Edit

I Want It Now. London: Jonathan Cape, 1968
  • He was short on the one attribute certain to meet the immediate respect of the rich — i.e. being rich — and must therefore obtrude deterrents against being buggered about.
    • Ch. 2, p. 67
  • You can't screw the rich, something in Ronnie muttered as Miss Quick got off him with quite as much alacrity as she had got on him. You have to let them screw you. Or else you leave out screwing altogether.
    • Ronnie Appleyard's thoughts after his first full sex with Simon (Simona) Quick in Ch. 2, p. 81
  • I was a shit when I met you. I still am in lots of ways. But because of you I've had to give up trying to be a dedicated, full-time shit. I couldn't make it, hadn't the strength of character. Which is a pity in a way, because when you fall back into the ranks of the failed shits or amateur shits or incidental shits you start taking on responsibility for other people.
    • Ronnie Appleyard to Simon (Simona) Quick in Ch. 4, p. 254

A Look Round the Estate: Poems, 1957–1967 (1968)Edit

  • Should you revisit us
    Stay a little longer
    And get to know the place...
    On local life we trust
    The resident witness
    Not the royal tourist.

The Green Man (1969)Edit

  • I told myself that I could soon start to relish the state of being alone […], only to find as usual that I was stuck with myself.[…] Two's company, which is bad enough in all conscience, but one's a crowd.
    • Maurice Allington in Ch. 2
  • From an outsider's point of view, a naked woman out of doors is either a sun-worshipper or a rape victim; a man in the same state is either a sexual criminal or a plain lunatic.
    • Maurice Allington in Ch. 2

What Became of Jane Austen? And Other Questions (1970)Edit

  • We should be wrong to demand that a critic must stay on the point all the time; it is enough if he remains in orbit around it.

Jake's Thing (1978)Edit

  • If there's one word that sums up everything that's gone wrong since the war, it's Workshop. After Youth, that is. (pg. 140)
  • 'What's that stuff they put in ships to keep them from going all over the place?'
    'What? Oh … ballast?'
    'That's right. People's sex drives are like ballast, they keep them steady. It sounds wrong, but they do.'
    • Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979, p. 274. The speakers are Brenda and Jake Richardson.

Collected Poems, 1944-1979 (1979)Edit

  • Be glad you're fifty — and
    That you got there while things were nice,
    In a world worth looking at twice.
    So here's wishing you many more years,
    But not all that many. Cheers!
    • "Ode to Me", (p. 134)

Stanley and the Women (1984)Edit

  • There isn't another other sex. (p. 254)

The Old Devils (1986)Edit

  • It’s quite a problem for retired people, I do see. All of a sudden the evening starts starting after breakfast. All those hours with nothing to stay sober for. Or nothing to naturally stay sober during, if you see what I…We used to laugh at Malcolm’s dad, the way he used to mark up the wireless programs in Radio Times in different-coloured pencils. Never caught him listening to any of them but it was an hour taken care of.
  • While he was climbing the litter-strewn steps his left ball gave a sharp twinge, on and off like a light-switch, then again after he had sat down. Nothing. Just one of the aches and pains that come and go. No significance.
  • Any man in the company of two women is outnumbered four to one however amiable they may be.

Difficulties with Girls (1988)Edit

Difficulties with Girls. London: Hutchinson, 1988
  • 'Oh, I see,' said Jenny. 'But you're just getting these men [New Age gurus] to help you all feel better. I thought when you talked about helping people you meant other people. You know, like the blind.'
    'Isn't everybody blind, in one way or another?' asked Wendy.
    • Ch. 11, p. 158
  • 'Shitty things are always simple. Same as great things. Patrick Standish, in conversation.'
    • Ch. 17, p. 248
    • The speaker is Patrick Standish, copyrighting his own witticism.
  • Nothing divided people more deeply than how they felt about cats.
    • Ch. 19, p. 274

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