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Quotations:  Back to School


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However enjoyable the holidays may have been, there is always a pleasurable excitement about going back to school... ~A. Q. Carter, "After the Holidays," A Shattered Idol, 1883


Because, of course we were very happy at school really. The trouble was that we were so much happier in the holidays. ~A. A. Milne (1882–1956), "The Happiest Half-Hours of Life," Not That It Matters, 1920


Labor Day is a glorious holiday because your child will be going back to school the next day. It would have been called Independence Day, but that name was already taken. ~Bill Dodds, "The Holidays," How to Outsmart Your Kids: The Parents' Guide to Dirty Tricks, 1992, billdodds.com


If there were no schools to take the children away from home part of the time, the insane asylums would be filled with mothers. ~E. W. Howe (1853–1937), Country Town Sayings: A Collection of Paragraphs from The Atchison Globe, 1911


Look here... tomorrow, at half-past eight in the morning, the carriage will come for you to take you back to school; and the sooner the better. ~A. Q. Carter, "Don's Secret," 1883  [a little altered –tg]


I can remember thinking how unfair it all was. Fifty-two weeks in the year and only fifteen of them spent at home. A child snatched from his mother at nine, and never again given back to her for more than two months at a time. ~A. A. Milne (1882–1956), "The Happiest Half-Hours of Life," Not That It Matters, 1920  [a little altered –tg]


Glad I am, mother, the holidays are over, when one goes back to school. Isn't it jolly? ~Dinah Mulock Craik (1826–1887), "Facing the World (A Story for Boys)," 1883  [a little altered –tg]


      But it is curious that I should never dream that I am going back to school, for the misery of going back must have left a deeper mark on my mind than all the little accidental troubles of life when there. I was very happy at school; but oh! the utter wretchedness of the last day of the holidays.
      One began to be apprehensive on the Monday. Foolish visitors would say sometimes... "When are you going back to school?" and make one long to kick them for their tactlessness. As well might they have said to a condemned criminal, "When are you going to be hanged?" or, "What kind of — er — knot do you think they'll use?" ~A. A. Milne (1882–1956), "The Happiest Half-Hours of Life," Not That It Matters, 1920


He had been waiting impatiently for the autumn. He looked forward eagerly to going back to school. He was homesick for his friends. ~Willa Cather (1873–1947), One of Ours, 1922  [a little altered –tg]


And the night before he was to go back to school he went up to bed tremulous with excitement. ~W. Somerset Maugham (1874–1965), Of Human Bondage, 1915


School is where you go between when your parents can't take you and industry can't take you. ~John Updike (1932–2009), The Centaur, 1962–1963


Holidays are enticing only for the first week or so. After that, it is no longer such a novelty to rise late and have little to do. ~Margaret Laurence (1926–1987), A Jest of God, 1966




There are three good reasons to be a teacher:  June, July, and August. ~Teacher joke


Several young gentlemen home for the holidays being informed that if they eat so much cake they will make themselves too ill to go back to school on Monday — there will be an extra demand for that article. ~William Thackeray, Albert Smith, Gilbert Abbott à Beckett, Horace Mayhew & Henry Mayhew, "January," The Comic Almanack, 1853  [a little altered –tg]


The midsummer holidays closed, and the students came back to school... Minty began to think of her destiny as magnificently as Napoleon Buonaparte used to talk about his. ~William Pitt Scargill (1787–1836), "My Schoolmaster's Daughter," 1836  [a little altered –tg]


His vocation just now is to go back to school... ~Elizabeth F. Ellet (1818–1877), "The Young Tragedian," 1851


Thus, I have cause to revere the name of Defoe, who reached his hand down through a century and a half to wipe away bitter tears from my childish eyes. The going back to school was always a dreadful woe to me, casting its black shadow far into the latter part of my brief holidays. I have had my share of suffering and sorrow since, like other men, but I have seldom felt so absolutely wretched as when, a little boy, I was about to exchange my pleasant home-life for the hardships and uncongenialities of school. Vain, as black Monday approached, were the increased tendernesses of my mother; the "treats" devised to cheat me of forebodings dire. And yet, I protest, I had but to take up Robinson Crusoe, and in a very few minutes I was out of all thought of the approaching calamity. I had travelled over a thousand leagues of sea; I was in my snug well-fortified cave, with the ladder upon the right side of it, "so that neither man nor beast could get at me." ~James Payn (1830–1898), "The Blessedness of Books," 1864  [A little altered. Payn's quoted phrase: Daniel Defoe, from Robinson Crusoe, 1719, "and this fence was so strong, that neither man nor beast could get into it, or over it... The entrance into this place I made to be, not by a door, but by a short ladder... which... when I was in, I lifted over after me; and so I was completely fenced in, and fortified... from all the world..." –tg]


There are many varieties of tall goldenrod that, bending in September breezes, will beckon the children back to school as to a golden way to knowledge; there are vines that ask only for a chance to climb lovingly over the doors and windows; there are little trees only waiting for the opportunity to spread their roots in the school yard and grow great there, entering tirelessly into the games of a ceaseless procession of scampering children; there are violets and snowdrops eager to play hide and seek in early spring days; and there are wild roses to bloom in June and lend their sweetness for all the summer to the memory of school. ~Charles Mulford Robinson (1869–1917), "Beautifying Rural School Grounds," 1905  [a little altered –tg]


My dear Collins, — Walter goes back to school on the 1st of August. Will you come out of school to this breezy vacation on the same day, or rather this day fortnight, July 31st? for that is the day on which he leaves us, and we begin (here's a parent!) to be able to be comfortable. Why a boy of that age should seem to have on at all times a hundred and fifty pair of double-soled boots, and to be always jumping a bottom stair with the whole hundred and fifty, I don't know. But the woeful fact is within my daily experience. ~Charles Dickens (1812–1870), letter to Wilkie Collins, 1855 July 17th  [Walter Savage Landor Dickens was the fourth of Dickens' ten children. Charles discouraged his son from becoming a writer and instead Walter served in the military beginning at age 16. He died from ill health in India at age 22, in 1863. –tg]


Back to School Quotations
Original post date: 2001 Dec 31
1st major revision: 2019 Aug 6



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