meaning and origin of ‘it’s all part of life’s rich pattern’

Of British-English origin, the phrase (it’s) (all) part of life’s rich pattern, or pageant, tapestry, fabric, is an ironically resigned, yet far from submissive, reflection upon the vicissitudes of life.

It postdates the shorter phrase (it’s) (all) (a) part of life’s pattern, or pageant. For example, this is a passage from the column Talks to Parents, by Brooke Peters Church, published in many U.S. newspapers in December 1933—for instance in the Alexandria Daily Town Talk (Alexandria, Louisiana) of Friday the 8th:

Left to himself, the average child relishes a street fight or an accident. To him they are not shocking, but a thrilling part of life’s pageant—inexplicable but existent.

And this is a passage from the homage that Wilbur E. Sutton paid to the Representative from Indiana Frederick Landis (1872-1934) in his column Comment, published in the Muncie Evening Press (Muncie, Indiana) of Friday 16th November 1934:

He was ambitious but when his ambitions were thwarted, which was oftener than not, he was not soured. It was all a part of life’s pattern as it was fashioned for him.

The following is from a portrait of an actor named Dick Copley, by William Cameron, published in the Daily Herald (London, England) of Thursday 15th September 1938:

Dick’s was the movie generation. He had grown up with it. He had seen it develop from a casual novelty into a part of life’s pattern, a necessity, like food and drink.

The first known occurrence of the phrase (it’s) (all) part of life’s rich pattern, or pageant, tapestry, fabric is from The Games Mistress, a monologue recorded in 1937, set in the confined world of all-girls’ schools, by the English author, journalist, broadcaster and monologist Arthur Marshall (1910-1989):

What, knocked a tooth out? Never mind, dear, laugh it off, laugh it off; it’s all part of life’s rich pageant.
—source: Oxford Essential Quotations (Oxford University Press, 2016), edited by Susan Ratcliffe

The second-earliest occurrence of the phrase is from a dialogue between Inspector Jacques Clouseau, interpreted by the English actor Peter Sellers (1925-1980), and Maria Gambrelli, interpreted by the German actress Elke Sommer (Elke von Schletz – born 1940), in A Shot in the Dark, a 1964 British-U.S. comedy film directed by the U.S. film-maker Blake Edwards (William Blake Crump – 1922-2010):

– Maria Gambrelli: You’re all wet!
– Jacques Clouseau: What? Oh, yes.
– Maria Gambrelli: Is it raining?
– Jacques Clouseau: No, it’s just that stupid driver of mine, he parked too close to the fountain.
– Maria Gambrelli: You should get out of these clothes immediately! You’ll catch your death of pneumonia, you will.
– Jacques Clouseau: Yes, I probably will. But it’s all part of life’s rich pageant, you know.

The earliest occurrence of the phrase that I have found is from an interview by Maureen Cleave of the English comedian Benny Hill (Alfred Hawthorne – 1925-1992)—interview published in the Evening Chronicle (Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, England) of Saturday 15th January 1966:

He walks to football matches in the disguise of a peaked cap and a set of plastic false teeth that I came across on the hall table. “All part of life’s rich pattern,” Mr. Hill said.

John M. Lee used the phrase in Gold Price Climbs in London; French Franc Under Pressure, published in The New York Times (New York City, N.Y.) of Thursday 13th June 1968:

The price of gold in Paris soared to another high of $46.40 this morning. But with the small Paris market insulated from outside forces by exchange controls, London and Zurich look on the Paris price simply as part of life’s rich tapestry.

The phrase occurs in an article about the advantages of ultra-heat-treated milk, published in the Lichfield Mercury (Lichfield, Staffordshire, England) of Friday 11th July 1969:

U.H.T. milk is now available in some areas. It is still in its infancy as far as the consumer is concerned. We have to be weaned on to it. The main stumbling block to its wider distribution in this country is the conservative housewife.
The milkman is part of life’s rich pattern. He may well be the only person she sees every day.

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