An Introduction
by Phillip Ward

In 1997, a displaced Englishman living and working in Scotland, by the name of Mike Bell, asked Quentin Crisp to write a monthly diary for his Web site QuentinCrisp.Com. Actually, it was a contractual agreement between the two men and Mr. Crisp’s agent at the Clausen, Mays, & Tahan literary agency. With my assistance in typing and editing his literary offerings, Quentin Crisp obliged Mr. Bell and provided six entries to the site.

In his later years living in New York City, Quentin Crisp’s eyesight began to deteriorate. Cataracts invaded his vision. This hindered his ability to easily scribble a letter or compose an article without discomfort—or even read without the assistance of a magnifying glass. Mr. Crisp was too vain to wear his eyeglasses. And he had eyeglasses! Yet, he’d never dare be caught in public with them resting on his undeniably English nose. It was not his style, and we all know he had style!

Also, in the early 1990s, Mr. Crisp lost the capacity to use his left hand due to illness. This prevented him from using his trusty companion: the typewriter. Luckily "My useless hand!" was not his dominant right hand and he was able to continue to scratch out his compositions. Mr. Crisp received many offers for articles and reviews, but he needed assistance in providing them hard copy. Along with the Demon Machine and Mr. Crisp’s clear dictation, I was able to transcribe his voice as quickly as he spoke the words. Thus, I became his "Left-hand Man" and typed and readied his manuscripts for publication over a number of years.

Mr. Crisp was totally fascinated with the computer, yet he was genuinely frightened by it and its potential. But then, he celebrated in the machine’s ability to enhance the size of font so that he could read the words more clearly and comfortably. He definitely felt that the computer screen was much better than the typing paper rolled into his crusty typewriter! Plus, he was able to see the letters without use of his handy lorgnette, which was often dangling from his neck and about his chest. It was a marvel for him to watch the words appear across the wide computer screen. His face lit up with childish electricity; a total excitement of wonder! Work on the Demon Machine was the Grand Cookie Jar for writing for Quentin Crisp.

Bad vision and old age certainly was not kind to Quentin Crisp's penmanship, but neither could stop him from writing! He even answered e-mail. I maintained his e-mail address on AOL, which was HRH QCrisp, and he answered postings regularly.

Up to his last night in New York City, he and I worked on Dusty Answers. Even on his departure, Mr. Crisp was still writing for the publications and for his admirers.

Click the months below to read Quentin Crisp's diaries for Internet in 1997.

by Quentin Crisp


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Copyright © 1999–2007 by Quentin Crisp and Phillip Ward,
from Dusty Answers (forthcoming), Mr. Crisp's final book. All rights reserved.

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