95 Wallace Stegner Quotes from The Dean of Western Writers

Wallace Stegner was an American author known for his fiction and historical nonfiction mainly set in the western United States, reflecting a deep sense of the American experience and the potential of the West.

He grew up in Saskatchewan, Canada and several western states in the U.S. and eventually taught at several universities, including Stanford University.

His first critical and popular success was ‘The Big Rock Candy Mountain’ (1943) and he later won a Pulitzer Prize for ‘Angle of Repose’ (1971) and a National Book Award for ‘The Spectator Bird’ (1976).


Stegner also wrote nonfiction, including histories of the Mormon settlement of Utah, a biography of explorer-naturalist John Wesley Powell and a history of oil drilling in the Middle East.

His book of essays, ‘Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs: Living and Writing in the West,’ was published in 1992.

I have selected the best quotes from Wallace Stegner for you in this article.

Wallace Stegner Quotes


Nevertheless, no fictions. ~ Wallace Stegner.


We are fossils in the making. ~ Wallace Stegner.


Hard writing makes easy reading. ~ Wallace Stegner.


We write to make sense of it all. ~ Wallace Stegner.


Water is the true wealth in a dry land. ~ Wallace Stegner.

This early piece of the morning is mine. ~ Wallace Stegner.


Maybe we were the Diggers of literature. ~ Wallace Stegner.

I shall be richer all my life for this sorrow. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Best Wallace Stegner Quotes

Talent can’t be taught, but it can be awakened. ~ Wallace Stegner.


No place is a place until it has found its poet. ~ Wallace Stegner.

I may not know who I am, but I know where I am from. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Faith can reclaim deserts as well as move mountains. ~ Wallace Stegner.


This place is like the back entrance to a black cow. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Well, there’s so much to read, and I’m so far behind. ~ Wallace Stegner.

The brook would lose its song if we removed the rocks. ~ Wallace Stegner.


Have a chance to create a society to match its scenery. ~ Wallace Stegner.

She had rooms in her mind that she would not look into. ~ Wallace Stegner.

If we don’t know where we are, we don’t know who we are. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Famous Wallace Stegner Quotes

Do we respond only to people who seem to find us interesting? ~ Wallace Stegner.

That is all the National Parks are about. Use, but do no harm. ~ Wallace Stegner.


As moonlight unto sunlight is that desert sage to other greens. ~ Wallace Stegner.

There is a sense in which we are all each other’s consequences. ~ Wallace Stegner.

In fiction I think we should have no agenda but to tell the truth. ~ Wallace Stegner.

After all, what are any of us after but the conviction of belonging? ~ Wallace Stegner.

Any life will provide the material for writing, if it is attended to. ~ Wallace Stegner.

To have so little, and it of so little value, was to be quaintly free. ~ Wallace Stegner.

You can’t retire to weakness – you’ve got to learn to control strength. ~ Wallace Stegner.

If you’re going to get old, you might as well get as old as you can get. ~ Wallace Stegner.

There is nothing like a doorbell to precipitate the potential into the kinetic. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Inspiring Wallace Stegner Quotes

A teacher enlarges people in all sorts of ways besides just his subject matter. ~ Wallace Stegner.

I balked at nothing, I was above nothing. Everything had something to teach me. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Hope was always out ahead of fact, possibility obscured the outlines of reality. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Are writers reporters, prophets, crazies, entertainers, preachers, judges, what? ~ Wallace Stegner.

The light is nostalgic about mornings past and optimistic about mornings to come. ~ Wallace Stegner.

We were going to leave a mark on the world but instead the world left marks on us.  ~ Wallace Stegner.

Be proud of every scar on your heart, each one holds a lifetime’s worth of lessons. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Towns are like people. Old ones often have character, the new ones are interchangeable. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Be bold, he says. Be brave. Be true to your birthright, what you recognize in your heart. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Youth hasn’t got anything to do with chronological age. It’s times of hope and happiness. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Are you a reader? If you aren’t a reader, you might as well forget trying to be a writer. ~ Wallace Stegner.

She will burn bright until she goes out; she will go on standing on tiptoe till she falls. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Young writers should be encouraged to write, and discouraged from thinking they are writers. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Wise Wallace Stegner Quotes

No one who has studied Western history can cling to the belief that the Nazis invented genocide. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Westerners live outdoors more than people elsewhere because outdoors is mainly what they’ve got. ~ Wallace Stegner.

You hear what the dean said about Jesus Christ? ‘Sure He’s a good teacher, but what’s He published? ~ Wallace Stegner.

Home is a notion that only nations of the homeless fully appreciate and only the uprooted comprehend. ~ Wallace Stegner.

The Westerner is less a person than a continuing adaptation. The West is less a place than a process. ~ Wallace Stegner.

No life goes past so swiftly as an eventless one, no clock spins like a clock whose days are all alike. ~ Wallace Stegner.

He says that when asked if he feels like an old man he replies that he does not, he feels like a young man. ~ Wallace Stegner.

I consider the integrity of the material to be of greater value than any message I might want to get across. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Most things break, including hearts. The lessons of life amount not to wisdom, but to scar tissue and callus. ~ Wallace Stegner.

A political animal can be defined as a body that will go on circulating a petition even with its heart cut out. ~ Wallace Stegner.

We are the only species which, when it chooses to do so, will go to great effort to save what it might destroy. ~ Wallace Stegner.

There is something about all beards that is like the gesture of thumbing the nose. Thank you very much. Up yours. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Powerful Wallace Stegner Quotes

In a way, it is beautiful to be young and hard up. With the right wife, and I had her, deprivation became a game. ~ Wallace Stegner.

The wicked and the unhappy always stole the show because sin and suffering were the most universal human experiences. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Every green natural place we save saves a fragment of our sanity and gives us a little more hope that we have a future. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Henry James says somewhere that if you have to make notes on how a thing has struck you, it probably hasn’t struck you. ~ Wallace Stegner.

American individualism, much celebrated and cherished, has developed without its essential corrective, which is belonging. ~ Wallace Stegner.

The life we all live is amateurish and accidental; it begins in accident and proceeds by trial and error toward dubious ends. ~ Wallace Stegner.

For lack of a keystone, the false arch may be as much as one can expect in this life. Only the very lucky discover the keystone. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Salt is added to dried rose petals with the perfume and spices, when we store them away in covered jars, the summers of our past. ~ Wallace Stegner.

There it was, there it is, the place where during the best time of our lives friendship had its home and happiness its headquarters. ~ Wallace Stegner.

A wandering dog of a night wind came in off the sagebrush mesa carrying a bar of band music, and laid it on her doorstep like a bone. ~ Wallace Stegner.

It is the abiding concern of thinking people to preserve what keeps men human-to save our contact with nature of which we are a part. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Expose a child to a particular environment at this susceptible time and he will perceive in the shapes of that environment until he dies. ~ Wallace Stegner.

I am impressed by how much of my grandparent’s life depended on continuities, contacts, connections, friendships, and blood relationships. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Great Wallace Stegner Quotes

Whatever landscape a child is exposed to early on, that will be the sort of gauze through which he or she will see all the world afterwards. ~ Wallace Stegner.

National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Some are born in their place, some find it, some realize after long searching that the place they left is the one they have been searching for. ~ Wallace Stegner.

I suspect that what makes hedonists so angry when they think about overachievers is that the overachievers, without drugs or orgies, have more fun. ~ Wallace Stegner.

You’ll do what you think you want to do, or what you think you ought to do. If you’re very lucky, luckier than anybody I know, the two will coincide. ~ Wallace Stegner.

The perfect weather of Indian Summer lengthened and lingered, warm sunny days were followed by brisk nights with Halloween a presentiment in the air. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Floating upward through a confusion of dreams and memory, curving like a trout through the rings of previous risings, I surface. My eyes open. I am awake. ~ Wallace Stegner.

No place is a place until things that have happened in it are remembered in history, ballads, yarns, legends, or monuments. Fictions serve as well as facts. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Every action is an idea before it is an action, and perhaps a feeling before it is an idea, and every idea rests upon other ideas that have preceded it in time. ~ Wallace Stegner.

The writers I admired and still admire were not carpenters, but more like sculptors. Their art was and is a real probing of real and troubling human confusions. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Death is a convention, a certification to the end of pain, something for the vital statistics book, not binding upon anyone but the keepers of graveyard records.  ~ Wallace Stegner.

Meaningful Wallace Stegner Quotes

Thanks to the growing strength of environmental organizations, there will always be some back country to provide us with a touch of wonder and a breath of fresh air. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Sally has a smile I would accept as my last view of earth, but it has a certain distance about it, it is under control, you can see her head going on working behind it. ~ Wallace Stegner.

It is something it can be everything-to have found a fellow bird with whom you can sit among the rafters while the drinking and boasting and reciting and fighting go on below. ~ Wallace Stegner.

It is almost impossible to write fiction about the Mormons, for the reason that Mormon institutions and Mormon society are so peculiar that they call for constant explanation. ~ Wallace Stegner.

You have to get over the color green; you have to quit associating beauty with gardens and lawns; you have to get used to an inhuman scale; you have to understand geological time. ~ Wallace Stegner.

After a day and a half or so the traveler will realize that crossing the continent by Interstate he gets to know the country about as well as a cable messenger knows the sea bottom. ~ Wallace Stegner.

We made plenty of mistakes, but we never tripped anybody to gain an advantage, or took illegal shortcuts when no judge was around. We have all jogged and panted it out the whole way. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Drama demands the reversal of expectation, but in such a way that the first surprise is followed by an immediate recognition of inevitability. And inevitability takes careful pin-setting. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Largeness is a lifelong matter – sometimes a conscious goal, sometimes not. You enlarge yourself because that is the kind of individual you are. You grow because you are not content not to. ~ Wallace Stegner.

I think, don’t you, that a girl with any delicacy of feeling couldn’t bring herself to marry a man indirectly responsible for her father’s death. No matter how much she was in love with him. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Human lives seldom conform to the conventions of fiction. Chekhov says that it is in the beginnings and endings of stories that we are most tempted to lie. I know what he means, and I agree. ~ Wallace Stegner.

Do we all buzz or ring or light up when people press our vanity buttons, and only then? Can I think of anyone in my whole life whom I have liked without his first showing signs of liking me? ~ Wallace Stegner.

The only life we know well, the one on which we are the ultimate authority, is our own. The only experience to which we can bear witness is that which we have personally endured and observed. ~ Wallace Stegner.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar