I'm making a poster of one of my favorite quotes from Almost Famous:

You'll meet them all again on their long journey to the middle.

The quote was spoken by the character of Lester Bangs, who was written by Cameron Crowe, BUT the character was based on the real-life Lester Bangs.

To whom would you attribute the quote in this situation? I can't find out if Cameron Crowe was actually quoting the real Lester Bangs in this case, or if Crowe just invented the quote for the character, so I'm stumped.

  • 1
    In my opinion if the writer wrote the quote, then you attribute it to the character or the author and not the original person on whom the character is based. For example, the character of Sherlock Holmes was based on a real person. However the quotes get attributed to either Holmes or else to Conan Doyle and not the original person on whom Holmes was based on. – Pravesh Parekh Feb 20 '14 at 22:30
  • Possible duplicate of Attributing quotes to fictional characters – Roger Feb 20 '14 at 22:42
  • 1
    Tell me if I get this wrong, but you are not really attributing to a person here. You are citing a source. Your source then have to care about the correct attribution. I'm aware that a book source does not look as cool on a poster than a person's name, but well, it would be the correct way imho. – John Smithers Feb 20 '14 at 23:43

The primary attribution is always to the author of the text.

Only then you can go about clarifying, if you feel the need to do so - "X has his character Y, based on real person Z, say..."

Another option:

the quote

[Character] (based on [Person]), [Title] by [Author].

But the order of dropping detail is:

[Character] (based on [Person]), [Title] by [Author].

[Character], [Title] by [Author].

[Title] by [Author].


If you really, really want to get the focus to that real [person], without dropping them into the bottom of the pecking order, pretend you've never heard of the [title], and just do

(attributed to [person])

That way your attribution is factually inaccurate (or, honestly, a blatant lie) but it seems accurate, and considering who "said it really", your "mistake" is quite excusable.

Always remember, as Benjamin Franklin said, "People lack all criticism when it comes to believing in attribution of quotes to famous people on the Internet."

  • I believe it was Twain who said that, not Franklin :^) – J.R. Feb 23 '14 at 11:49
  • @J.R.: More or less, it was a character fashioned after Benjamin Franklin, in a Twain's novel. ;^) – SF. Feb 24 '14 at 9:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.