“Talk of inspiration is sheer nonsense; there is to such thing. It is mere a matter of craftsmanship.”

— William Morris

I don't understand the quote, particularly the part I highlighted. I am confused about the preposition to as well as the expression to such thing.

I assumed that to such thing could mean to the extent of/that,

Talk of inspiration is sheer nonsense to the extent that we shouldn't even talk about it.

It's absolute nonsense, let's not talk about it.

but sheer has already covered that meaning, so we don't need "to the extent" part:

Talk of inspiration is sheer (=complete) nonsense to the extent that ....

Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

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    it's a typo, which seems to have managed to propagate across the interwebz by bloody-minded copy/paste. "there is no such thing." Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 10:10
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    To paraphrase... a typo can be halfway round the world before the original quote has it's boots on ;) It's the modern way, find something & re-post it to farcebork or twatter before even considering what it actually means or whether it's accurate... Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 10:29
  • 9
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the phrase in question is a typographical error.
    – TimR
    Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 10:50
  • 1
    @Tᴚoɯɐuo I am gonna remove it now, thank you, guys. (I couldn't) Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 10:51
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    I think we ought to leave it here as a reference for all the people who keep copy/pasting the wrong quote... & as a help for non-natives who don't realise the quote has been mangled. Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 10:59

2 Answers 2


The original quote has been so badly mangled by someone who simply failed to copy it out correctly in the first place.

It has then been handed round the internet by others who simply never bothered to check if it was correct.. or even if it made any sense at all.

Maybe they thought William Morris lived some time before Shakespeare & so "spoke funny", or maybe they just didn't think at all.

"to such thing" & "mere a" are simply garbage; not English.

The correct original quote is...

That talk of inspiration is sheer nonsense; there is no such thing. It is a mere matter of craftsmanship.

& here's a picture from an old actual real book, from before the interwebz was invented

enter image description here

In fact if you search Google for Books rather than everything, all the references agree.

To paraphrase the original [correct] quote...

Inspiration does not exist. All that exists is craftsmanship.

  • 1
    "mere a" also triggered me, but "to such thing" made me forget about it. Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 14:17

As @Tetsujin suggests, it's a Typo.

You can find the original Quote on Google Books, where it reads

"That talk of inspiration is sheer nonsense, [..] there is no such thing"

(emphasis by me)

It has wrongly been quoted on quotefancy and azquotes and other pages.

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