The world’s greatest bigheads

Jot 101 Bigheads book cover 001

Taken from The Bedside Book of Bigheads by William Cole (1995)

 I think I ought to have the O.M….They gave Hardy the O.M. and I think I am the greatest living writer in English, and they ought to give it to me.

Somerset Maugham.


I know everything. One has to, to write decently.

Henry James


Roots is obviously great, ranking with the Bible and Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey

Alex Haley


I want to be remembered as the greatest writer of this century. I’ve been compared to Plato.

Colin Wilson


I‘m perhaps the most gifted actor of my generation.

David Carradine


Yes, the Jews have produced only three original geniuses: Christ, Spinoza and myself

Gertrude Stein


I’ve given up reading books. I find it takes my mind off myself.

Oscar Levant.


With the single exception of Homer, there is no eminent writer, not even Sir Walter Scott, whom I can despise so entirely as I despise Shakespeare when I measure my mind against his….

Bernard Shaw.



I have astounded the whole world…I triumph not only over the moderns, but over the old masters as well

Gustave Courbet


FRIEND: There are only two great painters; you and Velazquez.

WHISTLER: Why drag in Velazquez?


When you are as great as I am, it’s hard to be humble

Muhammad Ali.


I am an enormously talented man, after all it’s no use pretending that I am not, and I was bound to succeed.

Noel Coward.


I’ve outdone anyone you can name—Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Strauss, Irving Berlin—he wrote 1,001 tunes. I wrote 5,500.

James Brown.


I can write better than anyone who can write faster, and I can write faster than anyone who can write bette

rAJ. Liebling.


I’m—along with the Queen, you know—one of the best things England’s got. Me and the Queen.

Sir Michael Jagger.


Think of the Bible and Homer, think of Shakespeare and think of me.

Gertrude Stein.


Were I not too kind to laugh at the cruel disappointment and envy suffered by certain poor little unsuccessful writers I would be amused by the fact that although I am now seventy-seven years of age , the unsuccessful are still thrown into what is practically an epileptic fit brought on by envy  and malice at  the mere mention of my name.

Dame Edith Sitwell, DBE, D Litt., D. Litt, D.Litt.


I intend to become America’s black female Proust.

Maya Angelou


On my grave I want this epitaph: ‘Here lies one of the most intelligent animals ever to appear on the surface of the earth’.

Benito Mussolini in 1937.


I don’t mind how much my ministers talk– as long as they do what I say.

Margaret Thatcher.


Do you know that I have often thought that I am the cleverest woman who ever lived and that others cannot be compared with me.

Empress Dowager Ci Xi of China (d. 1908)


You are an idiot. You are in the presence of one of the greatest academic feminists of your time, and you’re making as ass of yourself.

Camille Paglia ( to a student who questioned her scholarship)


If ever I felt inclined to be timid as I was going into a room full of people, I would say to myself, “ You’re the cleverest member of  one of the cleverest families in the cleverest class of the cleverest nation in the world, why should you be frightened?’

Beatrice Webb.



2 thoughts on “The world’s greatest bigheads

  1. Roger

    Wyndham Lewis’s more modest self-assessment: “I am just as genial a character as Mr. Bernard Shaw…. I am rather what Mr. Shaw would have been like if he had been an artist—I here use ‘artist’ in the widest possible sense—if he had not been an Irishman, if he had been a young man when the Great War occurred, if he had studied painting and philosophy instead of economics and Ibsen, and if he had been more richly endowed with imagination, emotion, intellect and a few other things. (He said he was a finer fellow than Shakespeare. I merely prefer myself to Mr. Shaw.)”

  2. Alessandra

    A modest and quite unassuming self assessment from the great Voricist! The remarks of Whistler, who also had no problems with self esttem, were surely intended to amuse. It has the Groucho touch avant le lettre…You could add Jeannette Winterson, Roald Dahl, AL Rowse, Salman Rushdie, Lou Reed, Madonna, Maradonna, Hemingway and many many more– some of huge talent!


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