PIC OF Q.CRISP From Quentin Crisp's 1984 book


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Quentin Crisp on Quentin Crisp

Quentin Crisp was reluctantly born on Christmas Day in 1908. To his dismay, he found himself to be the son of middle-class, middlebrow, middling parents who lived in Sutton, a suburb of London, England. After an uneventful childhood, he was sent, between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, to a school in Derbyshire which was like a cross between a monastery and a prison. There he learned nothing that could ever be useful to him in adulthood except how to bear injustice. His ignorance of everything but this and his ambiguous appearance made a career impossible except in the arts. He therefore became an illustrator and a designer of book covers. When he could no longer bear constantly being given the sack, he tried free-lancing. From time to time he wrote books on an assortment of subjects-on lettering ( a craft which he had never mastered ), on window dressing, on the Ministry of Labour ( with which, at the time, he had never had any connection except as an applicant for the dole ).

At length, almost by chance, he stood in for a friend who was an art school model, and finding that the effort did not cause him to collapse, he took up posing as a career. With this way of life he struggled on for thirty five years. In the middle 1960s, on a British radio channel to which no one listens, he uttered a few words that led to his being invited to write his autobiography. The synopsis of this proposed work caused the man who had commissioned it to faint dead away, but another firm, Jonathan Cape, agreed to publish it in 1968. This was an offer that Mr. Crisp could not refuse, because he was paid in advance.

Looking back the press likes to refer to the book as "a best seller at the time". It was no such thing. It received respectful reviews, sold about 3,500 copies, and caused no sensation whatsoever until it was translated into a television scenario by Mr. Mackie, who then, for four long, dark years, ran hatless through the streets of London trying to nag producers into making it into a movie. He failed.

Quentin Crisp 1984. Reproduced by kind permission of Quentin Crisp

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