Quentin Crisp

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Sutton, Surrey
Birth Sign
Sutton, Surrey

Denis Charles Pratt, better known as Quentin Crisp, was an English writer and storyteller who became a gay icon in the 1970s. He was different in his behavior and mannerism since he was a toddler, despite coming from a suburban family. His effeminate ways and tendencies were ridiculed by his classmates and friends, who mocked his appearance and mannerism. Despite the criticism, he proudly walked the streets with long, painted nails, loud make-up, girly dresses, and feminine demeanor. In his early years, he worked as an engineer’s tracer, but soon left to become a professional model for art colleges’ life-classes. He stayed in the business for three decades. He rose to fame and popularity following the publication of his memoir, ‘The Naked Civil Servant,’ and an interview about it. He was soon cast in television and film roles, including one based on his own memoir, ‘The Naked Civil Servant.’ He went on to star in a number of films and television series, with the 1990s being his busiest decade.

Childhood and Adolescence

Denis Charles Pratt was born in Sutton, Surrey, to Spencer Charles Pratt and Francis Marion Pratt. He was the couple’s fourth child. His mother was a former governess and his father was a solicitor.

His behavior had been unusual since he was a child. Due to his womanly behaviors and appearance, he became the target of ridicule and taunting.
In 1922, Pratt received a scholarship at Denstone College, Uttoxeter, after completing his formal education at Kingswood House School. He enrolled at King’s College London to study journalism four years later.

A Career of Quentin Crisp

He pursued painting classes at the Regent Street Polytechnic after failing to graduate from college in 1928. Around this time, he decided to change his name to Quentin Crisp.

Simultaneously, he began frequenting Soho cafes, extending his feminine behavior by experimenting with make-up and women’s clothing. He even began mingling with other gay men and rent boys, as well as working as a male prostitute.

He relocated to the heart of London after leaving home in 1930. He accentuated his feminine behavior and appearance while in London by wearing bright make-up, long and painted finger nails, and crimson red hair.
While his strange and quirky appearance charmed some Londoners, it was absurdly strange to the majority, and it drew animosity and violence.

He volunteered in the army during World War II, but was turned down due to his personality and changing sexual deviance.
In 1940, he moved to a bed-sitting room at 129 Beaufort Street, which he would call home for the following four decades.

He quit his profession as an engineer’s tracer in 1941 to pursue modeling in life classes in London and the Home Counties. He continued posing and preening for artists for the next three decades.

He had previously published three short works by the time he wrote what became known as ‘The Naked Civil Servant.’ ‘The Naked Civil Servant’ was originally titled ‘I Reign in Hell,’ but Caroll insisted on changing it.
The book, which was published in 1968, chronicled his career and life in a homophobic British culture. It received mostly positive feedback from its audience.

After the book’s success, Denis Mitchell approached him and requested him to participate in a short documentary on his life. His book, as well as the discussion, gained him a lot of attention and renown.

He was approached in 1975 to star in a television drama serial based on his book, ‘The Naked Civil Servant.’ He starred alongside John Hurt in the series of the same name. It was televised in both the United States and the United Kingdom.

The tele-series’ popularity encouraged him to consider a career as a performer and instructor. He went on to create his own one-man show after that. The first half of the performance featured an engaging and witty monologue, while the second half featured an interactive session with an audience question-and-answer round.

‘The Naked Civil Servant,’ his autobiography, was reprinted in 1975. His one-man performance was a smash hit, giving him a total makeover in the eyes of the social set, who saw him as a humorous narrator.

In 1976, he made his cinematic debut in ‘Hamlet,’ a low-budget film produced by the Royal College of Art. He played Polonius in a 65-minute rendition of Shakespeare’s play, with Helen Mirren playing Ophelia and Gertrude.
His presentation at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London in 1978 was a sellout. After the success of his show in London, he decided to bring it to New York. Despite certain setbacks throughout his time in New York, he decided to stay in the country permanently.

As a result, he traveled to America in 1981 with only a few belongings. He eventually found a place to stay in Manhattan’s East Village, in a modest flat on East 3rd Street. He put his phone number in the phone book right away after relocating.

He was open to strangers to the point that he would accept dinner invites from anyone, known or unknown. During and after the lunch, he delighted the invitee with his jokes, hilarious anecdotes, and inventive stories, while the invitee paid for his meals. As a result, these dinners became one-of-a-kind performances.

He continues to produce books about the necessity of current mannerism as a tool of social inclusion over the years. He accepted invitations to social gatherings and wrote movie reviews and essays for magazines and newspapers in the United States and the United Kingdom.

He acted in various television and film projects in addition to his books and program. He starred in the film ‘The Bride’ in 1985. Sting portrayed Baron Frankestein, the key character in the film.

In 1987, he was cast as the narrator of Richard Kwietniowski’s short film ‘Ballad of Reading Gaol.’ In 1988, he was cast as the narrator of Richard Kwietniowski’s short film ‘Ballad of Reading Gaol.’ The film is based on a poem by Oscar Wilde.

The 1990s proved to be a pivotal period in his professional life. He landed a main role in ‘Topsy and Bunker: The Cat Killers,’ a low-budget independent film released in 1992. His character was a doorman at a fleabag motel in a run-down and run-down neighborhood.

In the same year, he starred in the film Orlando as Elizabeth I. He excelled in his representation and received considerable attention and appreciation for his poignant performance, despite the fact that the role-playing was a difficult one.

‘Philadelphia’ and ‘To Wong Foo Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar’ are two additional films in which he appeared. His final independent film was ‘American Mod,’ and his last feature picture was ‘HomoHeights.’

He was interviewed by The Celluloid Closet in 1995, a documentary about how Hollywood films depicted homosexuality. In the same year, he published ‘Resident Alien,’ his third volume of memoirs.

He performed as a guest entertainer at the second Pride Scotland festival in Glasglow in June 1995. He celebrated his ninetieth birthday three and a half years later, in December 1998, by performing at the first night of his one-man show, An Evening with Quentin Crisp, at New York City’s Intar Theatre on Forty-Second Street.

Achievements & Awards

The distinguished Beaux Arts Society awarded him King of the internationally recognized Beaux Arts Ball in 1997. With Queen Audrey Kargere, Prince George Bettinger, and Princess Annette Hunt, he presided.

Personal History and Legacy

During the last few years, he has proven to be fiercely independent and unpredictable.

He died in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester, in November 1999, barely a month shy of his 91st birthday. His death happened to fall on the same day as the nationwide revival of his one-man show.

His ashes were flown back to Phillip Ward in New York after he was interred with little rites and ceremony. His total assets were appraised at $600,000 at the time of his death.

Estimated Net Worth

Quentin Crisp was an English writer, author, illustrator, raconteur, and occasional actor.His eistimated net worth is 1.9 million.


This classic memoir by a gay activist from the 1970s, ‘The Naked Civil Servant,’ was eventually made into a television series of the same name.