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Q: Quotation provenance. Shakespeare? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Quotation provenance. Shakespeare?
Category: Reference, Education and News > Education
Asked by: olasduif-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 18 Jul 2004 15:19 PDT
Expires: 17 Aug 2004 15:19 PDT
Question ID: 375884
The statement 'All who wander are not lost' is routinely attributed to
Shakespeare, but its exact provenance eludes me and, from what I tell,
it eludes the usual concordances also. Can you give me its origin and
references?  Thank you, David I. Tresan
Subject: Re: Quotation provenance. Shakespeare?
Answered By: scriptor-ga on 18 Jul 2004 16:21 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear olasduif,

Though the saying "All who wander are not lost" is often attributed to
William Shakespeare, this attribution is actually the result of a

In "The Merchant of Venice", Shakespeare wrote in Act 2, Scene 7, Line 66:
"All that glitters is not gold."

This line became a well-known proverb. So well-known that another
author, John Ronald Reuel (J.R.R.) Tolkien used a very similar phrase
in his book "The Fellowship of the Ring", first book of the "Lord of
the Rings" trilogy. In chapter 10, an "ancient verse" is quoted in a
letter, beginning with the words:

"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost"

Shakespeare's collected works do not include any phrase that resembles
"All who wander are not lost", so the obvious and most likely
conclusion is that someone familiar with the Shakespeare quote but not
with the "Lord of the Rings" read or heard the two lines from
Tolkien's book out of context and without an attribution of the actual
source. Because of the similarity between the lines referring to the
glittering and the gold in Shakespeare's and Tolkien's works, the
Tolkien quote was then erroneously attributed to Shakespeare, who
actually only wrote the original version of the first of the two
lines. I see no other logical explanation for how the two quotes were
confused and mingled.


The Collected Works of Shakespeare: The Shakespeare Search Engine The Fellowship of the Ring

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice, Act 2, Scene 7

Ronald O. Christian, "Re: Does the gold glitter or doesn't it?".
Online posting (2002-11-22). <rec.arts.books.tolkien> via Google

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"Nor all, that glisters, gold." "who wander"
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Hope this answers your question!
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