Quotes Misattributed to C.S. Lewis

Below is a list of the most frequent quotes we are asked about at the C.S. Lewis Foundation, listed in the order of frequency. None of these quotes are written by C.S. Lewis (at least as far as the evidence goes).

Due to the nature of the internet and social media, many of these quotes started out attributed to their proper author/speaker, but were soon falsely attributed to C.S. Lewis and quickly spread throughout the web.

Also note, that while we give the correct authors below, the quotes are often even misquotes or paraphrases of what those authors wrote. Also, there may be original sources of the quotes that go further back in time… we’ve just listed where they’ve been found.

Quotes NOT by C.S. Lewis

  1. “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” – paraphrase of a George McDonald quote in Annals of a Quiet Neighbourhood
  2. “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” – Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life OR This Was Your LIfe! Preparing to Meet God Face to Face by Rich Howard and Jamie Lash
  3. “You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.” – Les Brown
  4. “Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.” – Dr. John Trainer
  5. “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” – paraphrase of a Charles Marshall quote in Shattering the Glass Slipper
  6. “We read to know/discover that we are not alone.” William Nicholson, screenwriter, in Shadowlands (1993)
  7. “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” – from the film Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010); the screenwriters are Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, and Michael Petroni
  8. “Experience, that most brutal of teachers, but you learn, my God do you learn.” – slight misquote from a quote in the film Shadowlands (1993), William Nicholson, screenwriter

For a more in-depth discussion of these quotes and others, please see our friend William O’Flaherty’s book The Misquotable C.S. Lewis: What He Didn’t Say, What He Actually Said, and Why It Matters. O’Flaherty also runs a blog that regularly discusses this phenomenon and he also authored a 2017 piece about it in Christianity Today.