A famous quote atributed to Oscar Wilde is that, when he was asked by a customs officer in New York if he had anything to declare, he answered:

I have nothing to declare except my genius.

Does this have any corroboration?

  • Heh, yes I was wondering the same thing. Why would someone so "genius" say something so arrogant? And who quoted him on it?
    – JSideris
    Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 23:29
  • 16
    @Bizorke-- Being a genius does not necessarily connote humility.
    – mmr
    Commented Apr 24, 2012 at 1:47
  • 3
    @mmr True, but being a smartass does.
    – JSideris
    Commented Apr 24, 2012 at 2:01
  • This somehow reminds me of the fantastic novel by Luigi Pirandello "La patente" (The license).
    – nico
    Commented Apr 24, 2012 at 6:53
  • 1
    Perfectly in sync with Wilde's prose.
    – user11643
    Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 16:38

1 Answer 1


'Transatlantic Voyages and Sociology: The Migration and Development of Ideas' By Cherry Schrecker (Google Books) gives the date as 2 January 1882, and the actual quote as

I have nothing to declare but my genius

(My emphasis)

Schrecker cites the book 'Oscar Wilde' by Richard Ellman (1988) and another source as 'Bradbury 1995', but having no access the the actual Schrecker book, this reference remains sketchy.

  • 4
    Can you expand this to a full answer?
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Aug 25, 2012 at 14:01

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