Quentin Crisp

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Quentin Crisp (born Denis Charles Pratt, 25 December 1908(1908-12-25) – 21 November 1999(1999-11-21)), was an English writer and raconteur. He became an icon of homosexuality in the 1970s after publication of his memoir, The Naked Civil Servant, brought to the attention of the general public his defiant exhibitionism and inability to keep his sexuality private.



Early life

Denis Charles Pratt was born in Sutton, Surrey, the fourth child of solicitor Spencer Charles Pratt (1871–1931) and former governess Frances Marion Pratt (née Phillips) (1873–1960)[1]; he changed his name to Quentin Crisp in his third decade after leaving home and cultivating his outlandishly effeminate appearance to a standard that both shocked contemporary Londoners and provoked homophobic attacks.

By his own account, Crisp was effeminate in behaviour from an early age and found himself the object of teasing at Kingswood Preparatory School in Epsom, from where he won a scholarship to the independent school Denstone College, near Uttoxeter, in 1922. After leaving school in 1926, Crisp studied journalism at King's College London, but failed to graduate in 1928, going on to take art classes at the Regent Street Polytechnic.

Around this time, Crisp began visiting the cafés of Soho – his favourite being The Black Cat in Old Compton Street – meeting other young homosexual men and rent-boys, and experimenting with make-up and women's clothes. For six months he worked as a male prostitute,[2] looking for love, he said in a 1999 interview,[citation needed] but finding only degradation.

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