Texans are known for their bragging. Common sayings are “It ain’t braggin’” (if you can do it, or if it’s true) and
“no brag, just fact.”
“Never let the facts get in the way of a good story” (sometimes given with “truth” replacing the word “facts") is something that seems either from Texas or Hollywood (or a bit of both). The phrase dates from at least 1882.
Texas folklorist J. Frank Dobie (1888-1964) is often credited with this phrase, but it had been cited in print before he was born. Delbert Trew (another Texas folklorist) has claimed: “I never let the truth stand in the way of a good story.”
Wikipedia: J. Frank Dobie
James Frank Dobie (September 26, 1888–September 18, 1964) was an American folklorist, writer, and newspaper columnist best known for many books depicting the richness and traditions of life in rural Texas during the days of the open range. As a public figure, he was known in his lifetime for his outspoken liberal views against Texas state politics, and for his long personal war against what he saw as bragging Texans, religious prejudice, restraints on individual liberty, and the assault of the mechanized world on the human spirit. He was also instrumental in the saving of the Texas Longhorn breed of cattle from extinction.
Guerndale: an old story
By Frederic Jesup Stimson
New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons
“Don’t let a little matter of family trees stand in the way of a good story!” laughed Lord John. “Certainly not,” said Tom.
The Bell in the Fog
By John Stephen Strange
Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Dolphin Books
Clad in sober black, she flitted from house to house, advancing theories and peddling gossip. Never one to let the truth stand in the way of a good story, her version of the affair was more remarkable for its dramatic values than for its adherence to fact.
29 June 1940, Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, NE),pg. 5, col. 7:
...the women (and men) who won’t let truth stand in the way of a good story and embroider a little on every bit of gossip they hear;...
15 December 1956, Winnipeg
His book, which he calls frankly a novel, is a stringing together of vigorous and racy anecdotes, and if the facts get in the way of a good story, so much the worse for the facts.
9 March 1964, Fresno (CA) Bee, pg. 28, col. 8:
Lawrence Lader’s writing in Sunday’s Parade Magazine on the bail system followed with slavish devotion the slogan: “Never let the facts stand in the way of a good story.”
13 December 1969, Northwest Arkansas Times (Fayetteville, AR), pg. 4:
Murray writes for the Los Angeles Times, and wears the literary mantle of Artemus Ward, Josh Billings and Don Rickels. He’s a colorful writer, and he rarely lets facts get in the way of a good story.
OCLC WorldCat record
The truth never stands in the way of a good story
Author: Jan Harold Brunvand; Erik Brunvand
Publisher: Urbana, Ill. : University of Illinois Press, 2000.
Edition/Format: Book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Written by an expert on urban legends, this book explores the spontaneous germination of bizarre, yet plausible, narratives that play on the absurdities and prey on the fears of modern life. It looks at many rampant and long-lived examples of this category of contemporary folklore, tracing their histories, variations, sources, and meanings.
Google Groups: alt.old.west
Date: Fri, Feb 21 2003 11:44 am
Gerald, I had a hard time believing that Bigfoot was a descendant of William Wallace...I went to the Handbook of Texas and sure enough, there it is.
Then I noted that J. Frank Dobie actually penned that article before he died and was reminded of a quote OFTEN attributed to Dobie, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”
I’m still wondering. Do you have any personal sources of knowledge or were you accepting the Handbook, as I always do (well, almost always. Dobie did have a way with the truth!)
I like Dobie, don’t get me wrong. I’ve got all of his books with about two exceptions. But he was a folklorist!
“It’s All Trew” Texas columns by Delbert Trew
“It’s All Trew” by Delbert Trew
Appears in the Amarillo Globe News
Delbert Trew was born in Ochiltree County in the northern Panhandle of Texas in 1933. His wife Ruth was also born in the Panhandle on a farm near Follett, Texas. This was during the darkest days of the Great Depression and in the heart of the Dustbowl. They are retired and live 65 miles east of Amarillo on a ranch that’s been in the family for 54 years.
As a disclaimer he sometimes says, “I never let the truth stand in the way of a good story” and other times he says, “If you’ve already heard this story, don’t stop me, ‘cause I want to hear it again, myself.”
The 1824 Flag of the Texas Revolution
Texians and Hollywood seldom allow facts to get in the way of a good story and sometimes these stories take on the guise of history.
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Monday, January 08, 2007 • Permalink