Quote Investigator®

Tracing Quotations

It’s Never Too Late To Be What You Might Have Been

George Eliot? Adelaide Anne Procter? Apocryphal? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: My favorite quotation about untapped potential and enduring spirit is attributed to the prominent Victorian novelist George Eliot:

It is never too late to be what you might have been.

This popular saying has been printed on refrigerator magnets, posters, shirts, and key chains. But I have never seen the source specified. Are these really the words of George Eliot?

Quote Investigator: George Eliot was the pen name of Mary Ann Evans who died in 1880. Researchers have been unable to locate this quotation in her books or letters. Currently, the ascription to Eliot has no substantive support.

The earliest evidence of an exact match known to QI appeared in “Literary News: A Monthly Journal of Current Literature” in 1881. The editor held a contest to gather the best quotations from Eliot’s oeuvre. The following was the announcement printed in the April 1881 issue: [1] 1881 April, Literary News Prize Question No. 31: Subject: Gems from George Eliot, Quote Page 113, Publisher and Editor: F. Leypoldt, New York. (Google Books Full View) link

Prize Question No 31. Subject: Gems from George Eliot. Quote the most striking passage known to you from George Eliot’s writings; not to exceed thirty words. Answers due May 20.

In June 1881 the excerpts submitted by readers were printed in the periodical; however, they were not fully vetted for accuracy. Also, some entries did not specify the originating text. For example, these four items were included in the list. Boldface has been added to excerpts: [2] 1881 June, Literary News Prize Question No. 31: Subject: Gems from George Eliot, (Quote Number 23), Start Page 176, Quote Page 177, Publisher and Editor: F. Leypoldt, New York. (Google Books Full … Continue reading

We present herewith the selections made by our readers from the writings of George Eliot. Excluding all that exceed the prescribed limit of thirty words, we present herewith seventy-one selections. … 21. “Our deeds determine us as much as we determine our deeds.”—Adam Bede 22. “A woman’s choice generally means taking the only man she can get.” —Middlemarch. 23. “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” 24. “I’m not denyin’ the women are foolish; God Almighty made ’em to match the men.”

Statement 21 was correct though truncated. Statement 22 was slightly inaccurate; the novel used the word “usually” instead of “generally”. Statement 23 has never been found in the works of Eliot. Statement 24 did not list a source, but it did appear in “Adam Bede”.

This important citation with the incorrect attribution of the target quotation was identified by Professor Leah Price. After 1881 quotation number 23 started to appear in a variety of publications credited to George Eliot, and “Literary News” may have been the prime locus for its dissemination.

A very interesting partial match for the saying appeared earlier in a poem in 1859. Details are given further below.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

A thematic precursor was included in a lecture published in London in 1847. The following passage highlighted the possibility of growth and accomplishment late in life: [3] 1847, Sequel to Lectures Delivered at Literary and Mechanics’ Institutions by William Henry Leatham, “Lecture 1: The Rise, Growth, Maturity, and Prospects of English Literature, &c, … Continue reading

It is never too late to become a scholar, or a great man. Cato, the censor, learnt Greek in his old age. King Alfred was twelve years old before he could repeat his alphabet. Cromwell was forty-two years of age before he fought his first battle—and Blake was fifty before he entered the navy.

In 1859 the poet Adelaide Anne Procter released “The Ghost in the Picture Room” in the special Christmas issue of the London periodical “All the Year Round” which was edited by Charles Dickens. QI believes that the following couplet embodied a strong conceptual match for the quotation under investigation and a partial syntactic match:

No star is ever lost we once have seen, We always may be what we might have been.

The larger context within the work discussed the possibility of leading a “noble life”. The vicissitudes of subsisting might deflect one from pursuing an ideal path, but the author contended that crucial alternatives were not foreclosed, and one might still pursue a “noble life” at any time. The poem became better known under the title “A Legend of Provence”: [4] 1859 December 13, All the Year Round: A Weekly Journal, Conducted by Charles Dickens, (The Haunted House: The Extra Christmas Number of All the Year Round. Containing the amount of two ordinary … Continue reading [5] 1864, The Poems of Adelaide A. Procter by Adelaide Anne Procter, Poem: A Legend of Provence, Start Page 181, Quote Page 191, Ticknor and Fields, Boston, Massachusetts. (Google Books Full View) link

Have we not all, amid life’s petty strife, Some pure ideal of a noble life That once seemed possible? Did we not hear The flutter of its wings, and feel it near, And just within our reach? It was. And yet We lost it in this daily jar and fret, And now live idle in a vague regret; But still our place is kept, and it will wait, Ready for us to fill it, soon or late. No star is ever lost we once have seen, We always may be what we might have been. Since good, tho’ only thought, has life and breath, God’s life—can always be redeemed from death; And evil, in its nature, is decay, And any hour can blot it all away; The hopes that, lost, in some far distance seem. May be the truer life, and this the dream.

Procter’s couplet was memorable, and it has continued to circulate up to the present day. In 1879 “Replies: A Weekly Journal of Question and Answer” printed the words within a response to a query about the second line: [6] 1879 December 20, Replies: A Weekly Journal of Question and Answer, Conducted by Malcolm C. Salaman, Volume 2, Number 38, Answers to Correspondents, Quote Page 189, Column 1, Published by The … Continue reading

Devorgill.—The line, ‘We always may be what we might have been,’ occurs in a passage in the ‘Legend of Provence,’ by Adelaide Anne Procter— ‘No star is ever lost we once have seen, We always may be what we might have been.’

In 1881 the quotation being traced was printed in “Literary News” as noted previously. The expression was submitted by a reader of the periodical and no source was designated:

In 1884 the saying was included in an article about Eliot published in the “Illinois School Journal’. The phrase appeared in a section called “Extracts” that listed twenty quotes attributed to Eliot. [7] 1884 February, Illinois School Journal, General Exercises by Edward Bangs, (Discussion of George Eliot: 1820-1880), Start Page 250, Quote Page 250, Normal, Illinois. (Google Books Full View) link

In 1887 “The English Language: Its Grammar, History and Literature” was published, and a section about George Eliot’s prose style praised her work exuberantly: [8] 1887, The English Language: Its Grammar, History and Literature by J. M. D. Meiklejohn (John Miller Dow Meiklejohn), Quote Page 365, D.C. Heath & Company, Boston, Massachusetts. (Google Books … Continue reading

Her power is sometimes almost Shakespearian. Like Shakespeare, she gives us a large number of wise sayings, expressed in the pithiest language. The following are a few:— “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” “It is easy finding reasons why other people should be patient.” “Genius, at first, is little more than a great capacity for receiving discipline.”

The maxim was not universally embraced. In 1896 a book titled “The Education of the Central Nervous System” was sharply critical because the author contended that training in the early years of life was essential: [9] 1896, The Education of the Central Nervous System: A Study of Foundations, Especially of Sensory and Motor Training by Reuben Post Halleck, Quote Page 94, Macmillan Company, New York. (Google Books … Continue reading

From this mistaken notion arose such adages as: “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” It would be nearer the truth to say: “It is always too late to be what you might have been.” With each advancing year, this becomes an absolute truth in the case of the vast majority who have reached the age of twenty.

In 1897 William DeVere, self-described tramp poet of the West, published a short piece titled “Horse Philosophy” that included a set of adages and a rephrased unattributed version of Procter’s words: [10] 1897, Jim Marshall’s New Planner and Other Western Stories (Specially adapted for public reading) by William De Vere, Horse Philosophy, Quote Page 74, M. Witmark & Sons, New York. (Google … Continue reading

And try to do to others as you’d have them do to you. Remember that no star is lost that you might once have seen, Remember that you always may be what you might have been, No matter what your task in life be sure you never shirk,

In 2011 “The New Yorker” magazine published “Middlemarch and Me: What George Eliot Teaches Us” by Rebecca Mead who discussed the quotation and its mysterious ascription to Eliot. Mead’s stance was skeptical, and she recounted the words of Professor Leah Price: [11] 2011 February 14, The New Yorker, Life and Letters: Middlemarch and Me: What George Eliot teaches us by Rebecca Mead, Start Page 76, Quote Page 82, Column 2 and 3,The New Yorker Magazine, Inc., New … Continue reading

I’ve always assumed it was apocryphal. It shows up nowhere in full text searches of G.E.’s work. What’s strange is not that the attribution is so persistent but that it starts very early.

Price told Mead about the 1881 contest in “Literary News” that presented the first known instance of the quotation.

In conclusion, QI speculates that the quote attributed to George Eliot is traceable to the line written by Adelaide Anne Procter: “We always may be what we might have been”. In this scenario Procter’s statement would have been rephrased and then reassigned to Eliot. This process may have occurred in the mind of the individual who sent the quote to “Literary News”. Alternatively, the transition may have occurred in multiple steps. Perhaps future research will uncover these intermediary steps. Of course, other hypotheses are not ruled out.

(Great thanks to Karen Pfeiffer Jones @nykaren24 whose inquiry gave impetus to QI to formulate this question and initiate this exploration. Special thanks to Rebecca Mead and Leah Price for their very valuable efforts.)

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Is It Really Too Late to Learn New Skills?

By Margaret Talbot

Among the things I have not missed since entering middle age is the sensation of being an absolute beginner. It has been decades since I’ve sat in a classroom in a gathering cloud of incomprehension (Algebra 2, tenth grade) or sincerely tried, lesson after lesson, to acquire a skill that was clearly not destined to play a large role in my life (modern dance, twelfth grade). Learning to ride a bicycle in my early thirties was an exception—a little mortifying when my husband had to run alongside the bike, as you would with a child—but ultimately rewarding. Less so was the time when a group of Japanese schoolchildren tried to teach me origami at a public event where I was the guest of honor—I’ll never forget their sombre puzzlement as my clumsy fingers mutilated yet another paper crane.

Like Tom Vanderbilt, a journalist and the author of “Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning” (Knopf), I learn new facts all the time but new skills seldom. Journalists regularly drop into unfamiliar subcultures and domains of expertise, learning enough at least to ask the right questions. The distinction he draws between his energetic stockpiling of declarative knowledge, or knowing that , and his scant attention to procedural knowledge, or knowing how , is familiar to me. The prospect of reinventing myself as, say, a late-blooming skier or ceramicist or marathon runner sparks only an idle interest, something like wondering what it might be like to live in some small town you pass on the highway.

There is certainly a way to put a positive spin on that reluctance. If you love your job and find it intellectually and creatively fulfilling, you may not feel the urge to discover other rooms in the house of your mind, whatever hidden talents and lost callings may repose there. But there are less happy forces at work, too. There’s the fear of being bad at something you think is worthwhile—and, maybe even more so, being seen to be bad at it—when you have accustomed yourself to knowing, more or less, what you’re doing. What’s the point of starting something new when you know you’ll never be much good at it? Middle age, to go by my experience—and plenty of research—brings greater emotional equanimity, an unspectacular advantage but a relief. (The lows aren’t as low, the highs not as high.) Starting all over at something would seem to put you right back into that emotional churn—exhilaration, self-doubt, but without the open-ended possibilities and renewable energy of youth. Parties mean something different and far more exciting when you’re younger and you might meet a person who will change your life; so does learning something new—it might be fun, but it’s less likely to transform your destiny at forty or fifty.

In “Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over,” Nell Painter, as distinguished a historian as they come—legions of honors, seven books, a Princeton professorship—recounts her experience earning first a B.F.A. at Rutgers and then an M.F.A. at the Rhode Island School of Design while in her sixties. As a Black woman used to feeling either uncomfortably singled out or ignored in public spaces where Black women were few, she was taken aback in art school to find that “old” was such an overwhelming signifier: “It wasn’t that I stopped being my individual self or stopped being black or stopped being female, but that old , now linked to my sex, obscured everything else beyond old lady .” Painter finds herself periodically undone by the overt discouragement of some of her teachers or the silence of her fellow-students during group crits of her work—wondering if they were “critiquing me, old-black-woman-totally-out-of-place,” or her work. Reading her book, I was full of admiration for Painter’s willingness to take herself out of a world in which her currency—scholarly accomplishment—commanded respect and put herself into a different one where that coin often went unrecognized altogether, all out of exultation in the art-making itself. But her quest also induced some anxiety in me.

Painter is no dilettante: she’s clear about not wanting to be a “Sunday Painter”; she is determined to be an Artist, and recognized as such. But “dilettante” is one of those words which deter people from taking up new pursuits as adults. Many of us are wary of being dismissed as dabblers, people who have a little too much leisure, who are a little too cute and privileged in our pastimes. This seems a narrative worth pushing back against. We might remember, as Vanderbilt points out, that the word “dilettante” comes from the Italian for “to delight.” In the eighteenth century, a group of aristocratic Englishmen popularized the term, founding the Society of the Dilettanti to undertake tours of the Continent, promote the art of knowledgeable conversation, collect art, and subsidize archeological expeditions. Frederick II of Prussia dissed the dilettanti as “lovers of the arts and sciences” who “understand them only superficially but who however are ranked in superior class to those who are totally ignorant.” (They were, of course, wealthy, with oodles of time on their hands.) The term turned more pejorative in modern times, with the rise of professions and of licensed expertise. But if you think of dilettantism as an endorsement of learning for learning’s sake—not for remuneration or career advancement but merely because it delights the mind—what’s not to love?

Maybe it could be an antidote to the self-reported perfectionism that has grown steadily more prevalent among college students in the past three decades. Thomas Curran and Andrew P. Hill, the authors of a 2019 study on perfectionism among American, British, and Canadian college students, have written that “increasingly, young people hold irrational ideals for themselves, ideals that manifest in unrealistic expectations for academic and professional achievement, how they should look, and what they should own,” and are worried that others will judge them harshly for their perceived failings. This is not, the researchers point out, good for mental health. In the U.S., we’ll be living, for the foreseeable future, in a competitive, individualistic, allegedly meritocratic society, where we can inspect and troll and post humiliating videos of one another all the live-long day. Being willing to involve yourself in something you’re mediocre at but intrinsically enjoy, to give yourself over to the imperfect pursuit of something you’d like to know how to do for no particular reason, seems like a small form of resistance.

Tom Vanderbilt got motivated to start learning again during the time he spent waiting about while his young daughter did her round of lessons and activities. Many of us have been there, “on some windowless lower level of a school huddled near an electrical outlet to keep your device alive,” as he nicely puts it—waiting, avoiding the parents who want to talk scores and rankings, trying to shoehorn a bit of work into a stranded hour or two. But not many of us are inspired to wonder, in such moments, why we ourselves aren’t in there practicing our embouchure on the trumpet or our Salchow on the ice. This may speak to my essential laziness, but I have fond memories of curling up on the child-size couch in the musty, overheated basement of our local community center reading a book for a stolen hour, while my kids took drum lessons and fencing classes. Vanderbilt, on the other hand, asks himself whether “we, in our constant chaperoning of these lessons, were imparting a subtle lesson: that learning was for the young.” Rather than molder on the sidelines, he decides to throw himself into acquiring five new skills. (That’s his term, though I started to think of these skills as “accomplishments” in the way that marriageable Jane Austen heroines have them, talents that make a long evening pass more agreeably, that can turn a person into more engaging company, for herself as much as for others.) Vanderbilt’s search is for “the naïve optimism, the hypervigilant alertness that comes with novelty and insecurity, the willingness to look foolish, and the permission to ask obvious questions—the unencumbered beginner’s mind. ” And so he tries to achieve competence, not mastery, in chess, singing, surfing, drawing, and making. (He learns to weld a wedding ring to replace two he lost surfing.) He adds juggling, not because he’s so interested in it but because—with its steep and obvious learning curve (most people, starting from scratch, can learn to juggle three balls in a few days) and its fun factor—juggling is an oft-used task for laboratory studies of how people learn. These accomplishments aren’t likely to help his job performance as a journalist, or to be marketable in any way, except insofar as the learning of them forms the idea for the book.

“Hes giggling to himself. Get ready for a dad joke.”

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Vanderbilt is good on the specific joys and embarrassments of being a late-blooming novice, or “kook,” as surfers sometimes call gauche beginners. How you think you know how to sing a song but actually know only how to sing along with one, so that, when you hear your own voice, stripped of the merciful camouflage the recorded version provides, “you’re not only hearing the song as you’ve never quite heard it, you are hearing your voice as you’ve never quite heard it.” The particular, democratic pleasure of making that voice coalesce with others’ in a choir, coupled with the way, when friends and family come to see your adult group perform, “the parental smile of eternal indulgence gives way to a more complicated expression.” The fact that feedback, especially the positive kind stressing what you’re doing right, delivered by an actual human teacher or coach watching what you do, is crucial for a beginner—which might seem obvious except that, in an age when so many instructional videos of every sort are available online, you might get lulled into thinking you could learn just as well without it. The weirdness of the phenomenon that, for many of us, our drawing skills are frozen forever as they were when we were kids. Children tend to draw better, Vanderbilt explains, when they are around five years old and rendering what they feel; later, they fall into what the psychologist Howard Gardner calls “the doldrums of literalism ”—trying to draw exactly what they see but without the technical skill or instruction that would allow them to do so effectively. Many of us never progress beyond that stage. Personally, I’m stuck at about age eight, when I filled notebooks with ungainly, scampering horses. Yet I was entranced by how both Vanderbilt and, in her far more ambitious way, Painter describe drawing as an unusually absorbing, almost meditative task—one that makes you look at the world differently even when you’re not actually doing it and pours you into undistracted flow when you are.

One problem with teaching an old dog new tricks is that certain cognitive abilities decline with age, and by “age” I mean starting as early as one’s twenties. Mental-processing speed is the big one. Maybe that’s one reason that air-traffic controllers have to retire at age fifty-six, while English professors can stay at it indefinitely. Vanderbilt cites the work of Neil Charness, a psychology professor at Florida State University, who has shown that the older a chess player is the slower she is to perceive a threatened check, no matter what her skill level. Processing speed is why I invariably lose against my daughter (pretty good-naturedly, if you ask me) at a game that I continue to play: Anomia. In this game, players flip cards bearing the names of categories (dog breeds, Olympic athletes, talk-show hosts, whatever), and, if your card displays the same small symbol as one of your opponents’ does, you try to be the first to call out something belonging to the other person’s category. If my daughter and I each had ten minutes to list as many talk-show hosts as we could, I’d probably triumph—after all, I have several decades of late-night-TV viewing over her. But, with speed the essence, a second’s lag in my response speed cooks my goose every game.

Still, as Rich Karlgaard notes in his reassuring book “Late Bloomers: The Hidden Strengths of Learning and Succeeding at Your Own Pace,” there are cognitive compensations. “Our brains are constantly forming neural networks and pattern-recognition capabilities that we didn’t have in our youth when we had blazing synaptic horsepower,” he writes. Fluid intelligence, which encompasses the capacity to suss out novel challenges and think on one’s feet, favors the young. But crystallized intelligence—the ability to draw on one’s accumulated store of knowledge, expertise, and Fingerspitzengefühl —is often enriched by advancing age. And there’s more to it than that: particular cognitive skills rise and fall at different rates across the life span, as Joshua K. Hartshorne, now a professor of psychology at Boston College, and Laura T. Germine, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, show in a 2015 paper on the subject. Processing speed peaks in the late teens, short-term memory for names at around twenty-two, short-term memory for faces at around thirty, vocabulary at around fifty (in some studies, even at around sixty-five), while social understanding, including the ability to recognize and interpret other people’s emotions, rises at around forty and tends to remain high. “Not only is there no age at which humans are performing at peak at all cognitive tasks,” Hartshorne and Germine conclude, “there may not be an age at which humans are at peak on most cognitive tasks.” This helps Karlgaard’s case that we need a “kinder clock for human development”—societal pressure on young adults to specialize and succeed right out of college is as wrongheaded and oppressive on the one end of life as patronizing attitudes toward the old are on the other.

The gift of crystallized intelligence explains why some people can bloom spectacularly when they’re older—especially, perhaps, in a field like literature, where a rich vein of life experience can be a writerly asset. Annie Proulx published her first novel at the age of fifty-six, Raymond Chandler at fifty-one. Frank McCourt, who had been a high-school teacher in New York City for much of his career, published his first book, the Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir “Angela’s Ashes,” at sixty-six. Edith Wharton, who had been a society matron prone to neurasthenia and trapped in a gilded cage of a marriage, produced no novels until she was forty. Publishing fiction awakened her from what she described as “a kind of torpor,” a familiar feeling for the true later bloomer. “I had groped my way through to my vocation,” Wharton wrote, “and thereafter I never questioned that story-telling was my job.”

In science and technology, we often think of the people who make precocious breakthroughs as the true geniuses—Einstein developing his special theory of relativity at twenty-six. Einstein himself once said that “a person who has not made his great contribution to science before the age of thirty will never do so.” A classic paper on the relationship between age and scientific creativity showed that American Nobel winners tended to have done their prize-winning work at thirty-six in physics, thirty-nine in chemistry, and forty-one in medicine—that creativity rose in the twenties and thirties and began a gradual decline in the forties.

That picture has been complicated by more recent research. According to a 2014 working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research, which undertook a broad review of the research on age and scientific breakthroughs, the average age at which people make significant contributions to science has been rising during the twentieth century—notably to forty-eight, for physicists. (One explanation might be that the “burden of knowledge” that people have to take on in many scientific disciplines has increased.) Meanwhile, a 2016 paper in Science that considered a wider range of scientists than Nobelists concluded that “the highest-impact work in a scientist’s career is randomly distributed within her body of work. That is, the highest-impact work can be, with the same probability, anywhere in the sequence of papers published by a scientist—it could be the first publication, could appear mid-career, or could be a scientist’s last publication.”

When it comes to more garden-variety late blooming, the kind of new competencies that Vanderbilt is seeking, he seems to have gone about it in the most promising way. For one thing, it appears that people may learn better when they are learning multiple skills at once, as Vanderbilt did. A recent study that looked at the experiences of adults over fifty-five who learned three new skills at once—for example, Spanish, drawing, and music composition—found that they not only acquired proficiency in these areas but improved their cognitive functioning over all, including working and episodic memory. In a 2017 paper, Rachel Wu, a neuroscientist at U.C. Riverside, and her co-authors, George W. Rebok and Feng Vankee Lin, propose six factors that they think are needed to sustain cognitive development, factors that tend to be less present in people’s lives as they enter young adulthood and certainly as they grow old. These include what the Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck calls a “growth mindset,” the belief that abilities are not fixed but can improve with effort; a commitment to serious rather than “hobby learning” (in which “the learner casually picks up skills for a short period and then quits due to difficulty, disinterest, or other time commitments”); a forgiving environment that promotes what Dweck calls a “not yet” rather than a “cannot” approach; and a habit of learning multiple skills simultaneously, which may help by encouraging the application of capacities acquired in one domain to another. What these elements have in common, Wu and her co-authors point out, is that they tend to replicate how children learn.

So eager have I been all my life to leave behind the subjects I was bad at and hunker down with the ones I was good at—a balm in many ways—that, until reading these books, I’d sort of forgotten the youthful pleasure of moving our little tokens ahead on a bunch of winding pathways of aptitude, lagging behind here, surging ahead there. I’d been out of touch with that sense of life as something that might encompass multiple possibilities for skill and artistry. But now I’ve been thinking about taking up singing in a serious way again, learning some of the jazz standards my mom, a professional singer, used to croon to me at bedtime. If learning like a child sounds a little airy-fairy, whatever the neuroscience research says, try recalling what it felt like to learn how to do something new when you didn’t really care what your performance of it said about your place in the world, when you didn’t know what you didn’t know. It might feel like a whole new beginning. ♦

essay it never too late

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Essay on Better Late Than Never

Students are often asked to write an essay on Better Late Than Never in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Better Late Than Never


“Better Late Than Never” is a popular saying that means it’s better to do something late than not doing it at all. It teaches us the value of time and encourages us to complete our tasks, even if we are late.

Importance of Time

Time is precious. Once gone, it never comes back. It’s important to do things on time. But if for some reason we can’t, we should still try to finish it. It’s better to be late than never.

Examples from Life

In real life, we see many examples of this saying. If we are late for school, it’s better to still go than miss the whole day. If we forget a friend’s birthday, it’s better to wish late than not at all.

In conclusion, “Better Late Than Never” is a wise saying. It teaches us to not give up even if we are late. It tells us that it’s never too late to do the right thing.

250 Words Essay on Better Late Than Never

The phrase “Better Late Than Never” is an old saying that teaches us about the value of time. It means that it is better to do something late than not doing it at all. It tells us that even if we are late in achieving our goals, we should not give up.

Understanding the Phrase

“Better Late Than Never” is a simple yet powerful phrase. It tells us that if we have missed the right time to do something, we should not feel sad or lose hope. Instead, we should still go ahead and do it, even if it’s late. This phrase encourages us to keep trying and not give up.

Importance in Life

This phrase plays a key role in our lives. For example, if we start studying for an exam a bit late, it’s still better than not studying at all. Similarly, if we apologize for a mistake late, it’s better than never saying sorry. This phrase gives us hope and courage to face challenges, even if we are late.

In conclusion, “Better Late Than Never” is a wise saying that teaches us not to lose hope, even if we are late. It motivates us to keep trying and never give up. It tells us that it’s always better to do something late than never doing it at all. So, let’s keep this phrase in mind and apply it in our life.

500 Words Essay on Better Late Than Never

The phrase “Better Late Than Never” is a well-known English saying that has been used for many years. It suggests that it’s always good to do something, even if it is late, rather than not doing it at all. This phrase can be applied to many situations in our daily lives.

The Importance of the Phrase

The phrase “Better Late Than Never” is very important. It teaches us that it is never too late to start doing something good or beneficial. Sometimes we might feel that we are too late to start something new, like learning a musical instrument or a new language. This phrase encourages us not to give up, and to start, even if we feel it’s late. It’s about not missing opportunities and making the best use of our time.

Examples in Daily Life

We can see examples of “Better Late Than Never” in our daily lives. Suppose you have a project due tomorrow, and you haven’t started yet. You might think it’s too late and decide not to do it. But it’s better to start late and finish the project than not do it at all. You might not get the best grade, but you will learn something and avoid a zero.

Another example can be seen in our health habits. It’s never too late to start eating healthy or exercising. Even if you have been eating junk food all your life, it’s better to start eating healthy late than never.

Role in Personal Growth

The phrase “Better Late Than Never” also plays a big role in our personal growth. It helps us to stay motivated and keep trying, even when things get tough. It encourages us to take action, even if we think it’s too late. This can lead to personal development and growth.

For example, if you are an adult who never finished high school, it’s not too late to go back to school and get your diploma. It might be challenging, but it’s better to do it late than never.

In conclusion, the phrase “Better Late Than Never” is a valuable life lesson. It teaches us to never give up, to seize opportunities, and to strive for personal growth. It shows us that it’s never too late to start something good or beneficial. So, remember, it’s always better late than never!

That’s it! I hope the essay helped you.

If you’re looking for more, here are essays on other interesting topics:

  • Essay on Biggest Concern For The Future
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  • Essay on Biggest Regret In Life

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essay it never too late

It’s never too late to be what you might have been.


What's the meaning of this quote?

Quote Meaning: The quote "It's never too late to be what you might have been" carries a profound message about the enduring nature of personal growth and self-discovery. At its core, the statement encourages individuals to embrace the possibility of change and transformation throughout their lives. By asserting that it is never too late, the quote challenges the conventional notion that certain opportunities or paths become permanently closed as time progresses.

In essence, this quote underscores the idea that the journey of self-realization is not confined by the limitations of age or circumstance. It invites people to break free from the constraints of self-imposed barriers or societal expectations that may have hindered them from pursuing their true passions or realizing their full potential. The phrase implies that the potential for personal evolution remains omnipresent, waiting to be tapped into at any stage of life.

essay it never too late

Furthermore, the quote emphasizes the importance of introspection and the pursuit of one's authentic self. It suggests that individuals should not be deterred by past choices or perceived failures; instead, they should focus on the present moment and the untapped possibilities that lie ahead. By embracing the notion that it's never too late, the quote fosters resilience and a sense of optimism, encouraging individuals to cast aside regret and fear in favor of self-discovery and growth.

On a societal level, the quote holds implications for how we view and treat individuals who may be navigating unconventional paths or seeking late-in-life career changes. It challenges ageist stereotypes and encourages a more inclusive perspective that recognizes the potential for reinvention and achievement at any age. Ultimately, this quote serves as a powerful reminder that the journey toward becoming one's true self is a timeless and continuous process, and the door to personal fulfillment is never definitively closed.

Who said the quote?

The quote "It's never too late to be what you might have been." is often attributed to George Eliot ( Quotes ). George Eliot, the pen name of Mary Ann Evans, was a Victorian author celebrated for her profound novels exploring human relationships and society.

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It’s Never Too Late

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written by: Dianne Moritz

As a writer, I found success late in life. Although I’ve been writing since childhood, I never dreamed I could actually publish anything. Still, life is full of surprises: creativity blossoms, connections are made, epiphanies happen, then, suddenly, it veers off in a direction previously unimaginable. In my mid-thirties, I felt dissatisfied and frustrated, so I went into therapy. I found a therapist who encouraged me to jot down my feelings and dreams in journals. I followed his advice. I scribbled nearly every night, which led to anecdotes, poems, stories, letters to editors, and opinion pieces. Reading women’s magazines, I noticed that most of them featured a last page personal essay. I can do that, I thought. I discussed this with my doctor, who said, “Go for it.” I complied. As the old adage goes, it’s never too late. After submitting my compositions to magazines and newspapers around the country, I scored my very first sale, a humor piece, to Woman’s World for $300, in 1983 at age 37. Another sale to them soon followed. Yes, I’m a late bloomer, but I’m in great company. Laura Ingalls Wilder published “Little House on the Prairie” at age 65. She eventually wrote an eight book series that is still popular today. It is the book that keeps on giving….inspiring a hit television show that aired from 1974-1982….and earning millions. Louisa May Alcott, author of “Little Women,” was 37 when it came out. She is quoted as saying, “ I want to do something splendid…something wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead…I shall write books. ” Her book has been adapted for six films to date, plus a few plays, several mini-series, an opera, a ballet, and a musical. Wow, she’s remembered alright. And everyone on the planet knows about JK Rowling, a divorced, single parent, who penned the Harry Potter series, spawning many block-buster movies, and raking in billions. But here’s the thing, when you’re passionate about something, it’s never about the money. If great success comes, it is merely icing on the cake. The legendary confessional poet, Charles Bukowski, wrote stories and poems for years while traveling around and working various jobs. Hearse Press published his first chapbook of poems in 1960. Bukowski was forty and working for the post office in Los Angeles. In 1969, he quit to write full-time. “ I have one of two choices – stay in the post office and go crazy…or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I have decided to starve. ” He completed his first novel “Post Office” less than a month later, at age 49. Of course, he didn’t starve, as Black Sparrow Press published most of his subsequent works. There are numerous writers who found success later in life. Children’s writer, and one of my Facebook friends, Laurie Wallmark, received her MFA and published her debut book, Dino Pajama Party, at 61. Five female STEM biographies followed. I was 54 when I sold my poem, SANTA LIVES, to Peter, Pauper, Press, who then published it as a holiday gift book. I subsequently sold 4 more picture books. My latest one came out right before my 76th birthday. A year later, I continue to write picture books, haiku, poetry for both kids and adults, as well as essays and editorials. Hey, google “late bloomers” and you’ll find scores of other older writers, and lots of late bloomers in other fields, too. Yes, it’s never too late to follow your passion, no matter what it is. Senior citizens run marathons. President Carter’s mother joined the Peace Corps. Nancy Pelosi’s daughter just released a documentary about her mother. So, wish upon a star, and follow your dreams whenever and wherever they take you.

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English Essay, Paragraph, Speech on “It is Never Too Late to Begin Once Again” Complete Essay for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

It is never too late to begin once again.

To err is human. We often slip-up and make mistakes. All of us have our moments of weakness. We commit errors or careless acts which we live to regret later

More than the adults such acts are more common, especially in young boys and girls. They drift aimlessly without giving a thought to the future. It is during this period that they pick up bad habits. These habits could be anything from smoking to bunking classes or even eve-teasing. Such is the age that they do not realize their mistakes. Attempts by elders to correct them are taken as insults by them.

However, most of them realize their mistakes after some time. They understand that what they have been doing till now was wastage of time, energy and money. They become wiser and mend their ways. They correct themselves and begin in earnest to reform themselves. This they begin by giving up bad company and bad habits. They start paying more attention to their future and their profession. Until and unless they do not commit any serious offense the society is always willing to give them a second chance.

This has happened to most of us. Those who have come back from the path of sin and self-pleasure very early in their lives are today much wiser and sensitive and better human beings. While those who have realized their mistakes late in their lives have much to regret. They are the ones who have in their pursuit of pleasure just lost find sincere friendship and relationships. These people can once again try to restart their lives. However, it will remain doubtful that they may become happy and useful citizens. This is so because too much time has gone for them to be accepted once again as a useful member of the society

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Might Could Studios

It’s Never Too Late

It's Never Too Late. . Christine Nishiyama, Might Could Studios.

I’ve received countless emails from people asking for variations of the same thing:

I’m just now learning to draw now at ___ age, and now I feel like I’ve wasted all those years.

I stopped drawing when I had kids, and now I feel like I’m way behind.

I wasn’t creative growing up, and now I feel like I’ll never catch up.

The question underneath these feelings is: Is it too late for me to start making art?

And my whole-hearted, immediate answer is: No! Absolutely not!

This is not a race y’all. I don’t care if you’re 21, 65, or 102—it’s never too late to start making art.

It's Never Too Late. . Christine Nishiyama, Might Could Studios.

Claude Monet didn’t begin painting until mid-life. He painted a little in his 30’s but didn’t fully discover his inimitable artistic style until his 40’s. Most of the paintings you would recognize by Monet were done in his 50’s-60s’s and he was making art well into his later years, including Water Lilies when he was 76!

Lisa Congdon didn’t begin making art until 32, and didn’t begin working full-time as an artist until over a decade later. She is currently 51, and is a well-known illustrator and has worked for huge clients (like MoMA!), exhibits her art in solo shows, sells art prints, and has published 8 books.

Ok, alright, so we know it can be done—you can start making art later in life. But how? Here are 4 tips on how to overcome the belief that it’s too late to start making art.

It's Never Too Late. . Christine Nishiyama, Might Could Studios.

You have the drive to make art, you have the desire to share it with others, but you also know it’s not as good as you want it to be. And that contradiction can stop you from doing anything at all.

We have to remind ourselves that everyone has to start somewhere, no matter what age they are. So you have to start wherever you are. You’ll never wake up one day and feel like you’re good enough to start or good enough to share. The only way to get better, is to begin.

“There is never a perfect time to do anything. So it’s important to just begin, even when you aren’t quite ready.” –Lisa Congdon

It's Never Too Late. . Christine Nishiyama, Might Could Studios.

Recognize the Strengths of Your Age

When Lisa Congdon began making art in her 30’s she believed she had an asset that younger artists didn’t: more self-awareness. She knew more about who she was and what she was interested in than she did decades ago. That self-awareness made it easier for her to hone in on her unique artistic style.

“I just started drawing the stuff I was interested in and I didn’t overthink it. It freed me a little bit.” –Lisa Congdon

Along with the more recognizable weaknesses, each decade also brings it’s own new strengths. Reminding yourself of the strengths of your age can help reframe how you think about your age and your art.

In your 20’s? Maybe you’re surrounded by other people who are also trying to find out who they are and what they’re passionate about, and interested in growing and learning.

In your 30’s? Maybe you have children in your life to serve as constant inspiration and shining examples of how to play.

In your 40’s? Maybe you’re beginning to tap into more self-awareness and who you are as a person.

In your 50’s? Maybe you’ve begun to realize what’s really important in life and feel more free to make art without the pressure of making money from it.

In your 60’s? Maybe you’re retired and have more time on your hands to make art freely.

In your 70’s? Maybe you have grandchildren who can make art alongside you.

In your 80’s? Maybe you have a lifetime of stories that you want to share with your family and friends through art.

In your 90’s? Maybe art is the way you keep your mind sharp and hands moving.

In your 100’s? Maybe you’re a kick butt granny/grandpa who does whatever the heck they want!

It's Never Too Late. . Christine Nishiyama, Might Could Studios.

Draw for Fun, Not for Money

Making art as a career is wonderful and amazing, and obviously I endorse it because it’s what I do for a living. But you cannot BEGIN learning how to make art and aim to make money off your art at the same time. You have to first focus on your art, and later think about how you could turn it into a career, if that’s what you wish, though I’m also a strong evangelist for art as a hobby. You don’t have to make money off your art for it to be valuable and worthwhile.

My point is, you have to find yourself as an artist before you can sell yourself as an artist. Trying to mix the two separate processes from the beginning is a recipe for struggle and creative block.

“The minute you put all of the pressure on your art career to feed you is the minute it becomes extremely stressful.” –Lisa Congdon

It's Never Too Late. . Christine Nishiyama, Might Could Studios.

Comparing Yourself to Others

Let’s cut to the chase. The real issue that the “is it too late?” question reveals is comparison. You are comparing yourself to other people and other people’s artistic journeys. They’ve already done this much by such-and-such age and I haven’t done anything! This mindset is where the sensation of needing to “catch up” and of “falling behind” originate.

It’s a matter of seeing other people’s accomplishments and setting those same expectations for ourselves immediately without thinking about that person’s journey, what they’ve been through, or how long they’ve been at it.

Everyone’s path is different and your’s probably happened the way it did for a reason. Maybe you needed that decade working as a science teacher to develop your passion for microbes which led you to creating abstract bacteria paintings. Maybe you needed those two decades being a mother to develop your taste for children’s stories which led you to making children’s books.

“I also had to work on embracing this idea that there is room for everyone. Just because someone else you admire has some amazing accomplishment doesn’t mean that your work has any less value, or that your path is any less significant.” –Lisa Congdon

Yes, learning to draw takes time. Yes, developing your artistic style takes time. None of this happens overnight. But that does not mean you should have started 20 years ago or that you can’t start now. You never know what your journey needed, but you can be confident that wherever life took you, it will somehow come through in your art. Because our art is who we are.

Six Rules for Making Art. Christine Nishiyama, Might Could Studios

Every person has a different story to tell and stories change as life rolls on. There’s plenty of room for all stories, all artists, and all ages.

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‘To put it simply, it looks like both Combs and Simmons are in big trouble.’

The Diddy raid reminds us that it’s never too late for alleged victims to be heard

Tayo Bero

Years of work by alleged victims and advocates have led to an investigation of the mogul and a suit against Russell Simmons

L ast week, the world watched as agents of the US Department of Homeland Security dramatically raided two properties – one in Miami and one in Los Angeles – belonging to the music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs, as part of an ongoing investigation into sex-trafficking allegations.

What fewer people probably knew was that just a couple of weeks earlier, the former hip-hop executive Drew Dixon had tracked down another industry legend, Russell Simmons, to serve him with a defamation lawsuit relating to her own alleged history of abuse at Simmons’s hands.

Dixon sent a process server to the Bali resort where Simmons reportedly lives to serve him with the suit, which was triggered by comments in a December 2023 podcast in which he called Dixon a “liar” and suggested that the several documented sexual assault claims against him, including hers, were motivated by a desire for fame.

The raid and the lawsuit – big news stories that they are – are the culmination of years of tireless work by victims who had to navigate both a legal system and a wider culture that rarely shows up for them.

To put it simply, it looks as if both Combs and Simmons are in big trouble. And this reckoning, belated as it is, shows just how important it is that victims are empowered, both socially and legally, to speak up about abuse – regardless of how much time has passed, or who their alleged abusers are.

Combs’s most recent legal drama (as far as we, the public, know it) began back in November, when his former longtime partner, Cassie Ventura, filed a $30m lawsuit in federal court accusing Combs of a decade-long cycle of violent sexual abuse and trafficking that started when she was just 19 years old.

Combs denied the allegations, and settled the suit a day later for an undisclosed amount. But then other victims – both male and female – came forward with their own disturbing allegations of systematic sexual abuse by Combs and his associates going all the way back to the 90s. And, like many of the other high-profile men entangled in #MeToo accusations, Combs’s house of cards has continued to crumble since.

When it comes to seeking justice, it’s not hard to see why things took so long for many of Combs’s and Simmons’s alleged survivors. Studies have suggested that Black women face a higher risk of being sexually victimized than their white counterparts, yet Black survivors are often hesitant to report their abuse for fear of not being believed. According to the American Psychological Association, for every Black woman who reports a rape, at least 15 do not.

But legal recourses aren’t the only thing that’s needed to play catch-up to these disturbing truths. As a society, we’ve done a terrible job believing and protecting victims of abuse, particularly when they are Black.

Both Dixon and several of Combs’s accusers were young Black people who were navigating the tumultuous boys club that was 90s hip-hop at the time when they say they were abused. Who they are matters, because truth has a ripple effect, and Black victims who have long been silenced also need to see themselves represented in this current reckoning about sexual abuse in the entertainment industry, regardless of how powerful their abusers are.

Many of Combs’s alleged victims are also young Black men , a fact that further complicates the cultural dynamics of understanding, reporting and seeking justice for this kind of systematic sexual abuse. Hip-hop is notoriously homophobic and the culture of silence around sexual abuse that prevails within the industry means that many of his accusers would have been forced to stay silent, had they not felt that their disclosures would be backed up by other victims speaking out at the same time.

Combs is one of the kings of an empire that tends to both despise homosexuality and protect its most powerful. And according to the allegations against him, he weaponized this combination to create an environment where his victims would be not only too traumatized to speak out, but also too afraid of a culture that would stigmatize them for the manner in which they were victimized.

For vulnerable Black victims who have suffered at the hands of powerful abusers, having their day in court has long seemed like a pipe dream. Now, thanks to the bravery of survivors speaking out, that reckoning may no longer feel too far off.

Tayo Bero is a Guardian US columnist

  • Sean 'Diddy' Combs
  • #MeToo movement
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Missing dementia patient Peter Roach had walked out of Rockhampton Hospital several times

An elderly man with glasses sitting at a table lifting a fork with food to his mouth

Peter Roach had dementia, was deaf and vision-impaired when he left his ward at the Rockhampton Hospital in May last year.

An extensive land, water and air search involving police and the SES followed.

Almost 12 months on, Mr Roach has not been found.

His younger brother Rodney Roach said the hospital had failed in its duty of care.

"To be able to walk out of the hospital not once or twice, but quite a few times … knowing that a person has dementia, they've got to change their attitude about it," he said.

"These people need help … there's too many cracks in the system."

Two older men sit together, both are wearing glasses, the man on the right has a beard.

While police are still treating Mr Roach's disappearance as an active missing person's case, his brother said the search was called off as he had likely already died.

"The Rockhampton Hospital advised them [the SES] that without his medication, because he was pretty frail and that it was cold, that he wouldn't last," Rodney Roach said.

Right to information

Shortly after the incident, the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service (CQHHS) said it had reviewed what happened and changed some of the hospital's processes.

But the hospital would not confirm how Mr Roach left, or what changes had been made.

Newly released documents show Mr Roach had escaped from the hospital several times in the months before his disappearance.

The documents, obtained by the ABC through the right to information process, also show the disappearances were not always reported correctly.

Two images of an elderly man. Right: he is looking at the camera with a serious expression. Left: from CCTV of him walking

They also show staff did not notice Mr Roach was not in his ward until two hours after he had left the hospital.

It comes as experts call for a standardised process for aged care centres and hospitals to follow when people with dementia go missing, to increase the likelihood of patients being found alive.

What happened?

According to hospital documents, Mr Roach was seen bedside on the afternoon of May 21 between 2pm and 3pm.

CCTV shows he left the ward about 3:30pm while staff rushed to a medical emergency involving another patient.

Mr Roach walked out of the hospital moments later, but was not discovered missing until two hours later, around 5:45pm.

Security was contacted and police arrived at 7pm.

Four SES volunteers in bright orange jumpsuits can be seen in tall and dense grass that is up to their chests.

He had come to hospital 56 days earlier, after wandering from his home.

Documents show he had wandered from the ward multiple times during his stay.

In one instance, he was found outside on the ambulance ramp.

In another, staff at a nearby hospital found him and took him back to Rockhampton Hospital.

Rodney Roach said his brother had also been found at a local park and was returned by a council worker.

The documents show staff had noticed Mr Roach would sit by the exit, and would "redirect" him back to his room on a daily basis during his stay.

Though some instances were reported to relevant supervising staff, that was not the case every time, and the incidents were not entered into the hospital's risk database.

A rural paddock, with hills in the distance and a helicopter can be seen flying low

Changes to processes

An action review meeting was held after Mr Roach's disappearance to discuss what had happened and if any changes needed to be made to prevent similar incidents.

It did not take place until a month after Mr Roach's disappearance, despite the document showing such meetings were recommended to be held within 48 hours of an incident.

Notes from the meeting show changes had been introduced, with doors on the ward automatically locking and signs in place to alert visitors to check behind them when coming and going from the ward.

A sign for Rockhampton Hospital.

There was also discussion about the location of the entry buzzer and reviewing doors at the end of ward as they were slow to automatically shut.

A separate report also recommended staff undertake incident reporting training, and that the multidisciplinary team "meet regularly" to discuss plans for complex patients such as Mr Roach.

CQHSS general manager Allison Cassidy said his disappearance was "deeply concerning" but incidents concerning patient safety were thoroughly investigated.

She said a comprehensive review involving internal and external experts had since been completed, with the hospital implementing those recommendations.

"Since this incident, the access process for the ward involved has been reviewed and all visitors are now escorted by hospital staff on entry and exit," Ms Cassidy said.

She said staff had also been educated about identifying and reporting risks.

Additional security needed

Dementia Training Australia director Margaret MacAndrew said wandering was a challenge for family and healthcare providers and affected about 50 per cent of people with a dementia diagnosis in residential aged care.

"The only evidence we have around who is probably going to go missing is those who have gone missing before … and in those situations, then additional security to maintain their safety is needed," she said.

A woman with short blonde hair smiling

Dr MacAndrew said while technology such as alarms and GPS trackers could assist, there were limits with technology and it was essential for people to report missing people with dementia quickly.

She said she was developing a missing person's procedure for health services to better respond.

An older man with white hair, glasses and a beard wears a black t shirt

"After six hours the chances of finding them alive starts to decrease, so the faster we involve the police and they start their specialised search, the greater the potential of finding them alive," she said.

In the almost year since his brother's disappearance, Rodney Roach said the hospital had told him nothing until very recently, despite his requests for information.

"The dead silence is pretty hard to put up with," he said.

After the ABC contacted the CQHHS, Rodney Roach had a lengthy phone meeting with the health service.

He said he was pleased to hear processes had changed, but it would not bring back his brother.

"Let's hope it saves someone else," he said.

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Guest Essay

Trump’s Backers Are Determined Not to Blow It This Time Around

Two woman — one dressed in light blue, the other in black — sit on either side of a chair that has a pillow with “U.S.A.” on it and a flag design with two patches that read “Trump Tribe” and “Trump Tribe Texas.”

By Thomas B. Edsall

Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C., on politics, demographics and inequality.

In a rare display of unity, more than 100 conservative tax-exempt organizations have joined forces in support of Donald Trump and the MAGA agenda, forming a $2 billion-plus political machine.

Together, these organizations are constructing a detailed postelection agenda, lining up prospective appointees and backing Trump in his legal battles.

Most of the work performed by these nonprofit groups is conducted behind closed doors. Unlike traditional political organizations, these groups do not disclose their donors and must reveal only minimal information on expenditures. In many cases, even this minimal information will not be available until after the 2024 election.

Nonprofits like these are able to maintain a cloak of secrecy by positioning themselves as charitable organizations under section 501(c)(3 ) of the tax code or as social welfare organizations under section 501(c)(4 ).

Not only are these tax-exempt organizations attractive to large contributors who want to keep their roles secret; 501(c)(3) groups have an added benefit: Donors can deduct their gifts from their taxable incomes.

The benefits don’t end there. The minimal reporting requirements imposed on political nonprofits lend themselves to self-dealing, particularly the payment of high salaries and consulting fees, and the award of contracts to for-profit companies owned by executives of the charitable groups.

“The growth of these groups is largely flying under the radar,” Sean Westwood , a political scientist at Dartmouth, wrote by email in response to my inquiry. “This level of coordination is unprecedented.”

Theda Skocpol , a professor of government and sociology at Harvard, replying by email to my inquiry, wrote, “These are detailed plans to take full control of various federal departments and agencies from the very start and to use every power available to implement radical ethnonationalist regulations and action plans.”

This activity, Skocpol continued, amounts to a “full prep for an authoritarian takeover, buttressed by the control Trump and Trumpists now have over the G.O.P. and its apparatuses.”

In this drive by the right to shape policy, should Trump win, there are basically three power centers.

The first is made up of groups pieced together by Leonard Leo , a co-chairman of the Federalist Society, renowned for his role in the conservative takeover of the Supreme Court and of many key posts in the federal and state judiciaries.

If cash is the measure, Leo is the heavyweight champion. Two years ago, my Times colleagues Kenneth P. Vogel and Shane Goldmacher disclosed that a little-known Chicago billionaire, Barre Seid , who made his fortune manufacturing electronic equipment, turned $1.6 billion over to the Marble Freedom Trust , a tax-exempt organization created by Leo in 2021, helping to turn it into a powerhouse.

The second nexus of right-wing tax-exempt groups is the alliance clustered on Capitol Hill around the intersection of Third Street Southeast and Independence Avenue — offices and townhouses that fashion themselves as Patriots’ Row .

Former Trump campaign aides, lawyers and executive appointees, including Mark Meadows , Stephen Miller , Edward Corrigan and Cleta Mitchell , run these organizations. After Trump was defeated in 2020, the cash flow to these groups surged.

The third center is coordinated by the Heritage Foundation , which, under the leadership of Kevin D. Roberts , who assumed its presidency in 2021, has become a committed ally of the MAGA movement.

Heritage, in turn, has created Project 2025 in preparation for a potential Trump victory in November. In a statement of purpose, the project declared:

It is not enough for conservatives to win elections. If we are going to rescue the country from the grip of the radical left, we need both a governing agenda and the right people in place, ready to carry this agenda out on Day 1 of the next conservative administration.

There are more than 100 members of Project 2025, and they include not only most of the Patriots’ Row groups but also much of the Christian right and the anti-abortion movement.

In the view of Lawrence Rosenthal , the chairman and founder of the Berkeley Center for Right-Wing Studies, the convergence of so many conservative organizations leading up to the 2024 election marks a reconciliation, albeit partial, between the two major wings of the Republican Party: the more traditional market fundamentalists and the populist nationalists.

“In 2024,” Rosenthal wrote by email,

the free-market fundamentalists are making their peace on a more basic level than simply tax cuts. Their historic long-term goal — rolling back the federal government to pre-New Deal levels — corresponds to the nationalists’ goal of “deconstruction of the administrative state.” This is what the likes of the now thoroughly MAGA-fied Heritage Foundation is putting together. Recasting the administrative state as the “deep state,” a veritable launchpad for conspiracy-mongering innuendo, easily brings the populists along for the ride despite a “What’s the Matter With Kansas”-like abandonment of their own economic interests on the part of a sector of the population particularly dependent on the range of targets like Social Security and Medicare that the administrative-state deconstructors have in their sights. In return the populists are seeing avatars of Christian nationalism in unprecedented roles of political power — to wit, the current speaker of the House.

The populist-nationalist wing has an agenda that “goes beyond what the free-market fundamentalists have had in mind,” Rosenthal continued:

The model here is by now explicitly Orbanism in Hungary — what Viktor Orban personally dubbed “illiberal democracy.” By now, MAGA at all levels — CPAC, media, Congress, Trump himself — has explicitly embraced Orban. Illiberal regimes claim legitimacy through elections but systematically curtail civil liberties and checks and balances, structurally recasting political institutions so as to make their being voted out of office almost unrealizable.

The centerpiece of Leo’s empire of right-wing groups is the Marble Freedom Trust. The trust described its mission in a 2022 report to the I.R.S.: “To maintain and expand human freedom consistent with the values and ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.”

In 2016, according to an April 2023 I.R.S. complaint against Leo filed by the Campaign for Accountability , a liberal reform advocacy group, Leo created a consulting company, BH Group, and in 2020 acquired a major ownership interest in CRC Advisors . Both are for-profit entities based in Virginia.

The Campaign for Accountability’s complaint alleges that “Leo-affiliated nonprofits” paid BH Group and CRC Advisors a total of $50.3 million from 2016 to 2020. During this period, according to the complaint, Leo’s lifestyle changed:

In August 2018, he paid off the 30-year mortgage on the McLean, Va., home, most of which was still outstanding on the payoff date. Later that same year, Leonard Leo bought a $3.3 million summer home with 11 bedrooms in Mount Desert, an affluent seaside village on the coast of Maine, using, in part, a 20-year mortgage of $2,310,000. Leonard Leo paid off the entire balance of that mortgage just one year later in July 2019. In September 2021, Leonard Leo bought a second home in Mount Desert for $1.65 million.

The complaint was based partly on a March 2023 Politico story by Heidi Przybyla. She wrote that her “investigation, based on dozens of financial, property and public records dating from 2000 to 2021, found that Leo’s lifestyle took a lavish turn beginning in 2016,” citing Leo’s purchases of the Maine properties, along with “four new cars, private school tuition for his children, hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to Catholic causes and a wine locker at Morton’s Steakhouse.”

In October 2023, Przybyla disclosed (also in Politico ) that Leo was refusing to cooperate with an investigation by Brian Schwalb , the attorney general for the District of Columbia, “for potentially misusing nonprofit tax laws for personal enrichment.”

In a study covering more recent data , Accountable US , another liberal reform group, reported that from 2020, when Leo acquired a share of CRC Advisors, to 2022, seven “groups with immediate ties to Leo’s network have made payments totaling at least $69.77 million to CRC Advisors.”

Those figures were confirmed by Bloomberg’s Emily Birnbaum , who reported that “the sums paid to CRC Advisors by seven nonprofit groups have doubled since Leo came aboard as co-owner and chairman in 2020.”

Leo defended the payments, telling Bloomberg that criticism of the money flowing to CRC Advisors is “baseless” and that CRC performs high-quality work. “CRC Advisors employs nearly 100 best-in-class professionals that put its clients’ money to work,” he told Bloomberg.

In the drive to set the stage for a future Trump administration, the second conservative power center is dominated by the Conservative Partnership Institute , which coordinates its own pro-Trump network.

From 2018 to 2020, the Conservative Partnership was a minor player in Washington’s right-wing community. In that period, according to its 990 report to the I.R.S., its revenues totaled $16.9 million. In the next two years, donations shot up to $80.7 million.

Seven executives at the partnership in 2022 made in excess of $300,000 a year, topped by Meadows, Trump’s last White House chief of staff, whose annual compensation at the Conservative Partnership totaled $889,687 in 2022.

The Conservative Partnership and allied groups do not disclose donors, and none of the data on how much they raised and spent in 2023 and 2024 — or the identities of grant recipients — will be available before Nov. 5, 2024, Election Day.

The Conservative Partnership, like many of its sister groups, filed its 990 reports to the I.R.S. for 2020, 2021 and 2022 on Nov. 15 of each following year. If that pattern continues, its reports covering 2023 and 2024 will not be filed until Nov. 15 of the next year.

The partnership lists its address as 300 Independence Avenue Southeast in Washington, a three-story office building on Patriots’ Row that was originally the German-American Building Association.

Groups using the same mailing address include the Center for Renewing America (“God, country and community are at the heart of this agenda”), the Election Integrity Network (“Conservative leaders, organizations, public officials and citizens dedicated to securing the legality of every American vote”), Compass Legal Group , American Creative Network (“We will redefine the future of media-related conservative collaboration”), the American Accountability Foundation (“Exposing the truth behind the people and policies of the Biden administration that threaten the freedoms of the American people”), America First Legal (“Fighting back against lawless executive actions and the radical left”), Citizens for Renewing America and Citizens for Sanity (“To defeat ‘wokeism’ and anti-critical-thinking ideologies that have permeated every sector of our country”).

Since it was formed in 2020, Stephen Miller’s America First Legal foundation has been a case study in rapid growth. In its first year, it raised $6.4 million. In 2021 this rose to $44.4 million and to $50.8 million in 2022.

America First lawyers wrote two of the amicus briefs arguing to the Supreme Court that Trump should be restored to Colorado’s ballot . In one of the briefs , America First defended Trump’s actions and language on Jan. 6, 2021:

President Trump did not “engage in” insurrection. To engage in something is to take an active, personal role in it. Comparisons in modern language abound. When news emerges that nations have “engaged in military exercises,” one expects to read that “ships and planes” have been deployed, not tweets or press releases. Similarly, if someone has been described as “engaging in violence,” one expects that the person being spoken about has himself used force on another — not that he has issued some taunt about force undertaken by a third party. Engaging in a matter and remarking publicly about it are not the same, even with matters as weighty as wars or insurrections.

While the Heritage Foundation had relatively modest revenues of $95.1 million in 2022, according to its I.R.S. filing , its Project 2025 has become an anchor of the MAGA movement.

Trump has said he does not feel bound to accept all of the Project 2025 proposals, but the weight of institutional support from the right and Trump’s lack of interest in detailed planning suggest that those proposals may well shape much of the agenda in the event of a Trump victory.

The authors of Project 2025 want to avoid a repetition of 2017, when Trump took office with scant planning and little notion of who should be appointed to key positions.

Spencer Chretien , an associate director of Project 2025, put this concern delicately in a January 2023 essay published by The American Conservative , pointedly avoiding any criticism of Trump:

In November 2016, American conservatives stood on the verge of greatness. The election of Donald Trump to the presidency was a triumph that offered the best chance to reverse the left’s incessant march of progress for its own sake. Many of the best accomplishments, though, happened only in the last year of the Trump administration, after our political appointees had finally figured out the policies and process of different agencies, and after the right personnel were finally in place.

One function of the project is to put as much ideological muscle as possible behind Trump to ensure that if he wins the White House again, he does not wander afield.

From the vantage point of the right, that muscle is impressive, ranging from Oren Cass’s populist American Compass to Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America , from the tradition-minded American Conservative to the Independent Women’s Forum .

In the foreword to the project’s nearly 1,000-page description of its 2025 agenda, “ Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise ,” Roberts, the president of Heritage, wrote:

This book is the work of the entire conservative movement. As such, the authors express consensus recommendations already forged, especially along four broad fronts that will decide America’s future: 1. Restore the family as the centerpiece of American life and protect our children. 2. Dismantle the administrative state and return self-governance to the American people. 3. Defend our nation’s sovereignty, borders and bounty against global threats. 4. Secure our God-given individual rights to live freely — what our Constitution calls “the blessings of liberty.”

Perhaps the most impressive part of Project 2025 is the detailed and ideologically infused discussion of virtually every federal department and agency, all guided by the goal of instituting conservative policies.

Take the 53-page chapter, including 87 footnotes, focused on the Department of Health and Human Services, written by Roger Severino , the vice president for domestic policy at Heritage. The top priority of the department in January 2025, he wrote, must be “protecting life, conscience and bodily integrity.” The secretary “must ensure that all H.H.S. programs and activities are rooted in a deep respect for innocent human life from Day 1 until natural death: Abortion and euthanasia are not health care.”

Going deeper, Severino contended that the department must flatly reject “harmful identity politics that replaces biological sex with subjective notions of ‘gender identity’ and bases a person’s worth on his or her race, sex or other identities. This destructive dogma, under the guise of ‘equity,’ threatens American’s fundamental liberties as well as the health and well-being of children and adults alike.”

Severino did not stop there. In his view, the department must be in the business of “promoting stable and flourishing married families” because “in the overwhelming number of cases, fathers insulate children from physical and sexual abuse, financial difficulty or poverty, incarceration, teen pregnancy, poor educational outcomes, high school failure and a host of behavioral and psychological problems.”

Regarding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Severino’s analysis:

By statute or regulation, C.D.C. guidance must be prohibited from taking on a prescriptive character. For example, never again should C.D.C. officials be allowed to say in their official capacity that schoolchildren “should be” masked or vaccinated or prohibited from learning in a school building. Such decisions should be left to parents and medical providers.

At the start of the book, Paul Dans , the executive director of Project 2025, pointedly wrote that “it’s not 1980,” when Heritage produced the first “Mandate for Leadership” to guide the incoming administration of Ronald Reagan. Instead, Dans argued, the United States in 2024 is at an apocalyptic moment:

The game has changed. The long march of cultural Marxism through our institutions has come to pass. The federal government is a behemoth, weaponized against American citizens and conservative values, with freedom and liberty under siege as never before. The task at hand to reverse this tide and restore our republic to its original moorings is too great for any one conservative policy shop to spearhead. It requires the collective action of our movement. With the quickening approach of January 2025, we have one chance to get it right.

This time, the conservative movement plans to exercise maximum surveillance over an incoming Trump administration. In other words, there will be no kidding around.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here's our email: [email protected] .

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An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of an associate director of Project 2025. He is Spencer Chretien, not Chretian.

How we handle corrections

Thomas B. Edsall has been a contributor to the Times Opinion section since 2011. His column on strategic and demographic trends in American politics appears every Wednesday. He previously covered politics for The Washington Post. @ edsall


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