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Writer, colorful gay figure Quentin Crisp dead at 90

Crisp, the self-described 'Stately Homo of England,' lived in New York since the early 1980's  

November 21, 1999
Web posted at: 11:13 a.m. EST (1613 GMT)

LONDON (Reuters) -- Flamboyant writer and gay campaigner Quentin Crisp, author of "The Naked Civil Servant," died on Sunday, police said. He was 90.

Crisp, expected to begin a new run of his long-running one-man show, "An Evening with Quentin Crisp," on Monday, was found dead in the northern English city of Manchester, police added.

Crisp was found on Sunday morning at a house in the Chorlton-cum-Hardy area of the city and he was pronounced dead at hospital.

"There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death," a police spokesman told Reuters. "He's been identified as 90-year-old Quentin Crisp."

Remembering Quentin Crisp

The self-described "Stately Homo of England," who had lived in New York since the early 1980s, was expected to begin his show in Manchester on Monday before touring five other British cities.

A spokesman for the Manchester theater said the house where Crisp died was owned by "a friend of the theatre."

Renowned for his sharp wit and flamboyant clothes, Crisp became a gay icon with his 1968 book "The Naked Civil Servant," the story of a young homosexual man in the less tolerant Britain of the 1930s.

"If at first you don't succeed, failure may be your style" was among his famous quips, along with: "Never keep up with the Joneses; drag them down to your level. It's cheaper."

Gay activist for years

For decades, he battled at the forefront of campaigns for gay rights.

Crisp was born Denis Pratt on December 25, 1908, in the southeastern English town of Sutton, Surrey to what he called "middle-class, middle-brow, middling" parents.

He moved to London in the 1920s, changing his name and working as a nude model, prostitute and book designer.

He made his off-Broadway debut in 1978 with "An Evening with Quentin Crisp" and played cameo roles in various films, including the part of Queen Elizabeth I in "Orlando."

His other books include "How to Have a Lifestyle," "Doing it with Style" and "Resident Alien."

Rock singer Sting based his hit song "An Englishman in New York" on Crisp.

Quentin Crisp: free e-mail
Theatre Reviews Limited: "An Evening with Quentin Crisp"
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