A quotation by Bill Thurston
I think mathematics is a vast territory. The outskirts of mathematics are the outskirts of mathematical civilization. There are certain subjects that people learn about and gather together. Then there is a sort of inevitable development in those fields. You get to the point where a certain theorem is bound to be proved, independent of any particular individual, because it is just in the path of development.
Quoted in D J Albers, G L Alexanderson and C Reid, Mathematical People (Boston 1985)