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The Unwritten Laws of Life

Unofficial Rules as Handed Down by Murphy and Other Sages

By Hugh Rawson
Cover of The Unwritten Laws of Life (Hardback) by Hugh Rawson

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About the Author

Hugh Rawson

Hugh Rawson's popular books on language include Rawson's Dictionary of Euphemisms and Other Double talk, Wicked Words, and Devious Derivations.

With Margaret Miner, he also has compiled and annotated The Oxford Dictionary of American Quotations, The New International Dictionary of Quotations, A Dictionary of Quotations from the Bible, and A Dictionary of Quotations from Shakespeare.

A ... Read more on Hugh Rawson

Contents Listing

Over 500 'laws of life', including:

Astor's Axiom
All women marry beneath them.

Capone's Law
You can get a lot more done with a kind word and a gun than with a kind word alone.

Goldsmith's Law
Silence gives consent.

Hensley's Law
The less teeth the women have, the better the bar.

Lance's Law
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Miller's Law
The quality of food in restaurants is in inverse proportion to the number of signed celebrity photographs on the wall.

Osler's Law
The greater the ignorance, the greater the dogmatism.

Paley's Law
White lies always introduce others of a darker complexion.

Roosevel's Law
Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Swanson's Law
When the water reaches the upper deck, follow the rats.

Vidal's Law
It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.

Walpole's Law
Every man has his price.
Over 500 'laws of life', including:

Astor's Axiom
All women marry beneath them.

Capone's Law
You can get a lot more done with a kind word and a gun than with a kind word alone.

Goldsmith's Law
Silence gives consent.

Hensley's Law
The less teeth the women have, the better the bar.

Lance's Law
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Miller's Law
The quality of food in restaurants is in inverse propo ...

Jacket Text

Unwritten Laws is a wonderfully entertaining treasury of more than five hundred rules, axioms and insights, each associated with a particular individual.

None of the 'laws' appears on the statute book, yet they shape human affairs more profoundly than any Act of Parliament or by-law. As Catt's Law states:

"No written law has ever been more binding than unwritten custom supported by popular opinion."

To compile this collection, Hugh Rawson has drawn on biographies, novels, plays, interviews, TV, film, and popular folklore. Many of his lawmakers - people like Disraeli, Darwin, Orwell, and Wilde - were figures of historical importance in the arts, sciences, and professions. Others are ordinary individuals who made a chance remark about some aspect of life, only to find it celebrated as an immutable truth.

The author's skill has been to knit together these diverse elements and place them in context. Thus, for each law, he cites subsidiary laws, corollaries and inversions which add subtlety, wit and depth to the original.

The result is an immensely enjoyable book which informs and amuses in equal measure. It also provides excellent guidance for those negotiating their way past the rocks and shoals of life!

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