Quentin Crisp (1908-1999) was a writer, actor and individualist, born Denis Pratt on Christmas Day 1908 in Carshalton, Surrey, England. He was educated at a boarding school in Derbyshire that he described as 'a cross between a monastery and a prison'. He went to live in London in the 1920's, changed his name and found work as a book designer and art-school model. His openly effeminate appearance and manner during a time when homosexuality was still illegal led to frequent abuse and beatings, and this life was described in his 1968 autobiography, 'The Naked Civil Servant'. It sold only 3500 copies, but a 1976 television film based on the book and starring John Hurt brought instant celebrity to Crisp, then 68. Acting on stage and film followed, along with further best-selling books, including his New York diaries, 'Resident Alien'. He was renowned for his wit, flamboyance and eccentricity, describing himself as 'one of the great stately homos of England', and in 1982 he moved to a cluttered bedsit on Manhattan's Lower East Side where he lived 'in the profession of being'. He died at 90 in, incongruously, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester, England on 21 November 1999, before the start of a one-man tour. When he was once asked what he would like in his obituary, he replied, "Mr. Crisp thanks the world for letting him stay so long."
- I neither look forward, where there is doubt, nor backward, where there is regret; I look inward and ask myself not if there is anything out in the world that I want and had better grab quickly before nightfall, but whether there is anything inside me that I have not yet unpacked. I want to be certain that, before I fold my hands and step into my coffin, what little I can do and say and be is completed.
- It's no good running a pig farm badly for 30 years while saying, 'Really, I was meant to be a ballet dancer.' By then, pigs will be your style.
- No one is boring who will tell the truth about himself.
- Politics are not an instrument for effecting social change; they are the art of making the inevitable appear to be a matter of wise human choice.
- What many men feel convention is preventing them from expressing may not be some hideous piratical urge to rape or homicide, but the feminine side of their natures.
- On a day like today, I don't go out at all, and then I can remain wrapped in a filthy dressing gown, doing absolutely nothing. And someone said, "I don't think you should say that. Couldn't you say you meditate?" So I meditate.