Where Does Live Laugh Love Come From? - The Bee Charm

Where Does Live Laugh Love Come From?

One of the most famous pieces of positive writing can be summed up by three simple words of inspiration; live, laugh love.

Whilst many people have wall plaques, furnishings and sterling silver charms featuring these three simple principles of life, not as many people know where the saying comes from, or have a belief about its origin that is not correct.

Commonly misattributed to the American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, the poem was, in fact, written by the lesser-known poet Bessie Anderson Stanley, and comes from a poem simply called Success.

Written for a 1904 contest for Brown Book Magazine, Success initially was written as an essay that asked writers to describe what success is in 100 words or less. Mrs Stanley won the $250 first prize (Which amounts to £24,000 when adjusted for inflation) and created one of the most inspirational quotes ever written.

According to her great-granddaughter Bethanne Larson, the poem paid off the mortgage on the house and was featured in several old quotation books, most notably in Bartlett’s Big Book Of Quotations until the 1960s.

She did not have much other published work and died in 1952 at the age of 73. However, her legacy lives on primarily in the form of misattribution.

Ann Landers and Dear Abby, two of the most famous advice columns in the United States, frequently misattributed the poem to Ralph Waldo Emerson, which led to an argument between Ms Landers and a federal judge who knew Mrs Stanley.

Eventually, Esther Pauline Lederer, the writer behind Ann Landers, conceded and published a retraction in The Ann Landers Encyclopedia.

The poem, and its contracted form “Live, Laugh, Love” started to regain popularity in the early 2000s, in part the result of the popularity of inspirational feel-good films such as Eat Pray Love, the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, and has endured to this very day.

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