Quentin Letts in 2009
|Born||6 February 1963|
|Alma mater||Haileybury and Imperial Service College
Trinity College, Dublin
Jesus College, Cambridge
Quentin Richard Stephen Letts (born 6 February 1963) is a British journalist and theatre critic, writing for The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, The Oldie and New Statesman, and previously for The Times.
The son of Richard Letts and his wife Jocelyn Elizabeth (née Adami), he grew up in Cirencester and for a while attended Oakley Hall Preparatory School, which was run by his father. He was educated at Haileybury and Imperial Service College, then at Bellarmine College, Kentucky (now Bellarmine University), before going to Trinity College, Dublin, where he edited a number of publications including the satirical Piranha, before graduating with an MA degree in Medieval and Renaissance Literature. At Jesus College, Cambridge he gained a Diploma in Classical Archaeology.
Since 1987 Letts has written for a number of British newspapers. His first post was with the Peterborough gossip column for the Daily Telegraph. For a time in the mid-1990s he was New York correspondent for The Times. He was the person behind the Daily Mail's Clement Crabbe column for a period, and has been the paper's theatre critic since 2004 and is also a political sketchwriter. He lists his hobbies in Who's Who as "gossip" and "character defenestration".
A regular target of the latter trait was the former Speaker of the House of Commons Michael Martin whom he nicknamed "Gorbals Mick". This term is often seen as offensive, as "Mick" can also be used as a sectarian term of abuse towards Catholics of Irish descent, and Martin is not from and has never lived in the Gorbals, which despite improving in recent years used to be a dangerous slum of Glasgow. Lord Martin of Springburn's successor as Speaker, John Bercow, has also been on the receiving end of Letts' satire, notably being nicknamed Mr Squeaker contrasting with his over-bearing demeanour during House of Commons sessions.
Peter Wilby of The Guardian has asserted that an article by Letts about Harriet Harman was misogynistic. The same paper's theatre critic, Lyn Gardner, observed of a 2007 review by Letts' of a stage adaptation for children of Looking for JJ: "I think that this is the first time I've heard of a theatre critic arguing for censorship and demanding that a play should be removed from the stage".
Letts was invited to present an edition of the BBC current affairs programme Panorama broadcast on 20 April 2009, which dealt with the growing criticism of the influence of health and safety on various aspects of British life. He has also been a regular guest on BBC programmes, such as Newsnight, Have I Got News For You and This Week (with Andrew Neil). He presents a programme on BBC Radio Four called "What's the Point Of?" in which he questions the use of cherished British institutions.
Letts has written three books, the bestselling 50 People Who Buggered Up Britain, Bog-Standard Britain, and Letts Rip! all with his UK publisher Constable & Robinson. In Bog Standard Britain he attacks what he sees as Britain's culture of mediocrity, where political correctness has, in his words "crushed the individualism from our nation of once indignant eccentrics". 50 People Who Buggered Up Britain has sold around 45,000 copies and was reviewed in The Spectator as "an angry book, beautifully written". In a published extract, he argued that 1970s feminist writer Germaine Greer may, by asserting female sexuality, have given rise to the modern phenomenon of "ladettes", and that this encouraged men to behave badly towards women, thus doing the cause of equality a disservice. On 12 January 2013 Letts announced his intention to retire on his 50th birthday the following month, but failed to do so.
Letts married in 1996. The couple have a son and two daughters and live at How Caple, Herefordshire. Letts enjoys cricket, follows Gloucester Rugby FC and is a member of the Savile Club in London.
- Crow, Rachel (22 February 2010). "Political sketch writer Quentin Letts on life in London and How Caple, Herefordshire". Herefordshire Life.
- Rachel Cooke (2009-10-18). "Quentin Letts: Is this Britain's most opinionated man". The Observer. Retrieved 2012-05-01.
- Foulkes, Lord (17 May 2009). "Speaker won't stand down for hypocritical scapegoaters". London: The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2009-11-02.
- "On the press: Peter Wilby on Harriet Harman's election as Labour's deputy leader". London: The Guardian. 2007-07-02. Retrieved 2009-07-22.
- Lyn Gardner (2007-10-26). "Children's theatre must grow up". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2012-12-28.
- "The First Ladette: How Germaine Greer's legacy is an entire generation of loose knickered lady louts". Dailymail.co.uk. 2009-11-10. Retrieved 2012-05-01.
- Daily Mail 12 January 2013
- May, Philippa (2008-10-23). "Quentin lets rip in new book". The Hereford Times. Retrieved 2010-08-31.