Maurice Baring

British dramatist, poet, novelist, translator and essayist (1874-1945)

Maurice Baring (27 April 187414 December 1945) was a versatile English man of letters, known as a dramatist, poet, novelist, translator and essayist, and also as a travel writer and war correspondent.


  • In Mozart and Salieri we see the contrast between the genius which does what it must and the talent which does what it can.
    • An Outline of Russian Literature (London: Williams and Norgate, 1914/15), Ch. II: "The New Age—Pushkin", p. 81.
    • Baring applies a "contrast" first made by Robert Bulwer-Lytton in Chronicles and Characters (London: Chapman and Hall, 1868), Vol. II, p. 302: "Genius does what it must, and Talent does what it can."
  • Lord Saint-Edith said he couldn't understand people thinking Bacon had written Shakespeare's plays. If they said Shakespeare had written the works of Bacon as a pastime he could understand it.
    • Passing By (London: Martin Secker, 1921), "From the Diary of Godfrey Mellor", March 17, 1908; p. 34.
  • [T]here is a vast difference between games and play. Play is played for fun, but games are deadly serious, and you do not play them to enjoy yourself.
    • The Puppet Show of Memory (London: William Heinemann, 1922), Ch. V: "School", p. 70.
  • Whoever one is, and wherever one is, one is always in the wrong if one is rude.
    • The Coat Without Seam (1929), Ch. VIII.
  • A good play is a play which, when acted upon the boards, makes an audience interested and pleased. A play that fails in this is a bad play.
    • Have You Anything to Declare? (London: William Heinemann, 1936), p. 285.
  • If you would know what the Lord God thinks of money, you have only to look at those to whom He gives it.
    • As quoted by Dorothy Parker in Marion Capron, "An Interview with Dorothy Parker", The Paris Review, Issue 13 (Summer 1956).

Orpheus in Mayfair (1909)

Orpheus in Mayfair and Other Stories and Sketches (London: Mills & Boon, Limited, 1909)
  • I wish I was dead,
    And lay deep in the grave.
    I've a pain in my head,
    I wish I was dead.
    In a coffin of lead—
    With the Wise and the Brave—
    I wish I was dead,
    And lay deep in the grave.
    • "Jean François", p. 39.
  • Thank God I'm alive
    In the light of the Sun!
    It's a quarter to five;
    Thank God I'm alive!
    Now the hum of the hive
    Of the world has begun,
    Thank God I'm alive
    In the light of the Sun!
    • "Jean François", p. 39.
  • Here's the lily, here the rose
    Her full chalice shall disclose;
    Here's narcissus wet with dew,
    Windflower and the violet blue.
    Wear the garland I have made;
    Crowned with it, put pride away;
    For the wreath that blooms must fade;
    Thou thyself must fade some day,
    • "The Garland", p. 113.
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