Blowing my own trumpet

I’d like to share with you a couple of reviews we got for “Bakerton”:

“This book is a great read! There are lots of twists and turns to the storyline which keeps your intrigue in the novel to the end.”

An absolutely exciting novel … can’t wait for the next one.”

All very satisfying, of course, and I don’t see a problem with any author blowing his or her own trumpet. After all, Joshua did all right round the walls of Jericho, and Miles Davis certainly blew a mean trumpet. But then I got to thinking about the origins of the phrase. What, exactly, is the history of blowing your own trumpet?

The phrase dates back to at least 1576 and probably as far back as medieval times, when official heralds blew fanfares for the arrival of a monarch. However, if a commoner wished to announce his own arrival, he would have to blow his own trumpet. It was used (in a round-about way!) by Shakespeare in “Much Ado About Nothing” and 16th century philosopher Abraham Fleming wrote that he would “sound the trumpet of mine own merits”.

The phrase really gained popularity in the 19th century. The OED’s earliest citation is from a letter written by Mark Twain in 1859 (but only published in 1917), in which he wrote, “Permit me to blow my horn”. While in his work, “Australia and New Zealand” (1873), Anthony Trollope wrote, “In the colonies … when a gentleman sounds his own trumpet he blows.”

In America, the phrase “blow my own horn” also became prominent in the 19th century, where it was used in the West to describe a braggart or “blowhard”.

I just hope that the next time I blow my own trumpet, you won’t think me a “blowhard”! Really, I’m just a wordsmith.

Have a good day.

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