Nigel Rees

British writer and broadcaster

Nigel Rees (born 5 June 1944) is a British broadcaster, author, journalist and speaker. He compiled and presented Quote Unquote, a programme for BBC Radio 4 which ran from 1976 to 2021.

Nigel Rees in 2012


  • My toils in the quotation field have led me to formulate two or three laws about the way people use and abuse quotations. My first law is: When in doubt, ascribe all quotations to Bernard Shaw – which I don't mean to be taken literally, but as a general observation of the habit people have of attaching remarks to the nearest obvious speaker. Churchill, Wilde, Orson Welles and Alexander Woollcott are other useful figures upon whom to father remarks when you don't know who really said them.
    • Sayings of the Century (London: Allen & Unwin, 1987), p. iv.
  • An analogous process I shall call Churchillian Drift...Whereas quotations with an apothegmatic feel are normally ascribed to Shaw, those with a more grandiose or belligerent tone are, as if by osmosis, credited to Churchill. All humorous remarks obviously made by a female originated, of course, with Dorothy Parker. All quotations in translation, on the other hand, should be attributed to Goethe (with 'I think' obligatory).
    • Brewer's Quotations (London: Cassell, 1994), p. x.
    • Adaptation of the original: "The Vagueness Is All" from Volume 2, Number 2, April 1993 issue of The “Quote... Unquote” Newsletter
  • I am only too aware that I am open to Rees's Second Law of Quotation: "However sure you are that you have attributed a quotation correctly, an earlier source will be pointed out to you."
    • Brewer's Quotations (London: Cassell, 1994), p. x.
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