Critic, editor, translator

Quentin played the part of Lord Alfred Douglas in my play Lord Alfred’s Lover. He made no claims to be an actor, though he said his detractors thought he never did anything act. He also had never learned the lines of a really long role, which this was. He never got all Lord Alfred’s lines by heart, so I had to change the script and pretend Lord Alfred was reading from his Memoirs, tho the “book” in Quentin’s hands was actually the script of my play. The show had to stop rather frequently while Quentin adjusted his large magnifying glass; he could only read the script when this glass at the right distance both from the page and from his eyes . . .

Which perhaps suggests that the ruined the show. But he didn’t. To the contrary. For the whole two hours of its duration, the eyes of the audience was glued to the action on stage, largely because Quentin sat enthroned there the whole time. (It is a play that probably should have been called Lord Alfred Douglas Comes Clean.) If Quentin wasn’t an actor, he was something that had great value to the performance of this play. I called him my Rock of Gibraltar.

In rehearsal he was my Rock of Ages. There was an emotional upheaval at one rehearsal. A rather unpleasant young man, with no great heterosexual credentials himself, called my stage manager a Faggot (and worse, which I cannot repeat to the refined persons reading this note). I rebuked him sternly. He shouted profanities at me (and enjoyed the fact that I too was a Faggot). So I got really flustered and angry and fired him, raising my voice as I had never done in my life. Why am I bringing up such sordid details? Because, when I turned to Quentin hoping maybe that he would do some shouting too, he looked me candidly in the eye and said, very quietly, “I shall remain perfectly calm.”

That was Quentin. Physically rather slight, mentally he was tough as nails. I think all gay people who knew him sensed this. The straights didn’t. They took his queenly, “effeminate” style to intimate, if not actual weakness, then at best delicacy.

The joke was on them.

Many have asked if Lord Alfred's Lover is in print. And, yes it has been published more than once and in more than one format. At present it is in print, in a much revised and improved text, in a collection by Eric Bentley called Monstrous Martyrdoms, Second Edition. The publisher is Northwestern University Press, and Quentin is mentioned therein as the actor of the Lord Alfred role in the New York premiere.
Photograph copyright © by Frank Fournier. All rights reserved.

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