Louis Mordell (1888 - 1972)

Neither you nor I nor anybody else knows what makes a mathematician tick. It is not a question of cleverness. I know many mathematicians who are far abler than I am, but they have not been so lucky. An illustration may be given by considering two miners. One may be an expert geologist, but he does not find the golden nuggets that the ignorant miner does.

Quoted in H Eves Mathematical Circles Adieu (Boston 1977).