Quentin Crisp

While writing about Tom Eckersley recently, I was reminded of my life drawing classes at the London College of Printing during the seventies. We were really lucky to have Quentin Crisp as our life model. He often held court and entertained us with stories of his flamboyant, difficult past, some funny, some gut wrenchingly painful. At the time I did not appreciate what a terrible time he had growing up in a society where being gay was a crime. It was only when I saw The Naked Civil Servant did I fully appreciate Quentin’s extraordinary persona.


Photographs copyright © Jean Harvey. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Courtesy of Crisperanto: The Quentin Crisp Archives.

In November 1999 Quentin Crisp died, nearly one month before his 91st birthday, in my now hometown of Chorlton in Manchester on the eve of a nationwide revival of his one-man show. He was lodging just two streets away from my house.

A really nice piece of street art can be seen in the centre of Chorlton – a Banksy styled silhouette of a fascinating and brave man. I smile each time I see it.