In this post I will define eccentricity, state the characteristics of eccentric people, and explain why eccentricity is good and beneficial. I will also describe some eccentric people who have impressed me over the years. Eccentric people are unique, sometimes fun and sometimes difficult. They add vibrancy to life. They are different and more alive than most people. They are extraordinary and most creative. If we all built a little eccentricity in our lives, life would be far from dull. It would be invigorating, spectacular and most fun! Eccentricity is great, fabulous and just magnificent! Creativity would flourish if we were a little eccentric.

What Is Eccentricity?

The word eccentricity comes from the Greek word “ekkentros” meaning “off course”. It is a poetic interpretation of a mathematical term meaning something that does not follow the lines. Eccentricity means out of the ordinary. It is strange, sometimes weirdly attractive behaviour or dress. Eccentricity is unconventional or irregular behaviour, an oddity or peculiarity of conduct. It suggests a mildly amusing but harmless characteristic or style. An eccentric person is not afraid of and is definitely not influenced by other people.

As Coulter Watt said, “Eccentricity comes from the mind and playfulness about life and language, manifesting itself in real individualistic character.”

Characteristics of Eccentric People

Eccentric people have been described as highly intelligent, outspoken and opinionated. They are also creative and filled with curiosity. They have a non-conforming attitude and are idealistic. They bend the rules. When you consider some famous eccentric people you will better appreciate the characteristics of these people.

Some examples are Oscar Wilde, Leo Tolstoy, Albert Einstein and Vincent Van Gogh. They were all brilliant but definitely were a little weird.

Some Eccentric People

I would like to share with you some interesting eccentric people I have met or known about.

My Teachers

In school I had a rather eccentric teacher who came to school wearing different shoes. The right shoe was not of the same design as the left shoe. Our class noticed it and one by one we took turns to go up to the front on some pretext just to take a closer look at the shoes. And did we laugh!

Then we had a teacher who drove to school on a Vespa scooter. She wore a crash helmet and we just adored looking at her as she “putt putted” in to the school compound! A woman on a scooter in the sixties was an amazing sight! I had a language teacher too, who would, on occasion, stand on the teacher’s table and spout out religious statements. Were we scared of her!

In my pre-University days we had a teacher who, from the moment she came in, till the time she left, would not take her eyes from her notes. She did not look at us throughout the lecture! We could do anything during her class and she would not know! Another teacher, who taught us literature, called us lemons and tried unsuccessfully, to teach us TS Elliot’s The Waste Land. It was not her fault but rather that being naïve and innocent, we had no idea what Elliot meant in his poem!

Rich Eccentrics

One very rich man I knew would drive himself in a very small Mini Minor. He was very much at home in the car and he did not exhibit his wealth. If you saw him in his car, you would have no idea that he was an extremely wealthy person. Another friend of mine is extremely wealthy, having enjoyed a very successful career. My friend dresses very simply and he hates suits, ties, socks and any other formal wear. Instead, he is most unconventional and dresses in a plain but unique style. His hair is often wild. I describe him as a brilliant intellectual who always has something to say about anything and everything.

The Eccentric Artisits

The Musician

A most eccentric person, I met was Jimmy Mckissic. He played the piano and sang at a top hotel. He was just wonderful. His music repertoire was extensive. He played classical pieces, jazz and hymns. I loved his rendition of How Great Thou Art. Jimmy would wear black but his shoes were unique. The left would be yellow and the right would be red! They were specially designed and made for him. Jimmy was deeply religious and he had a great love for God. I have kept the many cards, notes and a CD of his concert at Carnegie Hall which he sent me. My life has been enriched for knowing him.

The Actor

Someone I consider eccentric was Quentin Crisp. I saw him on television in London in 1983 and I was most impressed. Quentin was an English writer, artists’ model, actor and raconteur. He was known for his insightful witticisms. He had a one man show and he lectured on how to live life and the importance of manners. His books were well received. Quentin Crisp remained true to himself throughout his career and he died just short of his 91st birthday. My favourite quote by him is “Never keep up with the Jonses. Drag them down to your level.”

The Writer

One other eccentric person whom I would like to mention here is Jeffrey Barnard. Jeffrey Barnard was a feature writer for The Spectator, a journal which I enjoy reading. The column which he wrote for 14 years was titled Low Life. It was funny and observant. It reflected his highly intelligent and witty personality. Jeffrey Barnard spent his day at the Coach and Horses, a pub on Greek Street in Soho. He was the Peter Pan of modern times, he never grew up. Later Keith Waterhouse wrote a play about him. It was titled, Jeffrey Barnard Is Unwell. This was the expression that the Spectator used when he was too drunk or hung over to write. Peter O’Toole acted in the play.

I was fascinated by his writing and on one visit to London, many years ago, I made my way to Greek Street, to the Coach and Horses to meet him. I had rung the Spectator Office and was advised to go to the Pub at 11 am as he would be at the Bar at the time. I had a wonderful two hours and I watched so many people come in, greet him and exchange short statements with him. Jeffrey Barnard was eccentric. He made so many people happy and in his writing he revealed a side of life that was most interesting. I learned a lot and I am grateful that there was someone like him who could write so well.

You can see from this post and others on my blog that I prefer eccentricity to the bland and colourless. Do not hide your eccentricity. Let it shine, let it out, let it colour your life! Do not follow the trend. Remember these words of Quentin Crisp:

“Fashion is what you adopt when you don’t know who you are.”


  1. I’ve always admired people who dares to be themselves. Your write-up encourages me to have the courage to be myself, eccentric or not. Cheers,

  2. The world is awash with eccentrics from Rowan Atkinson to John Cleese and to our very own Kumar. Mercifully,we recognise them for their wit, creativity and intelligence. When I was growing up, reference to a person being eccentric was simply a euphemism for saying he or she was “mad”!
    Long may eccentricity live!!

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