The Naked Civil Servant

On June 26, 2007 at London's famous Bonhams 1793 Ltd., the typewriter on which Quentin Crisp wrote The Naked Civil Servant was auctioned off in Lot No. 27. Paul Frecker bought this special lot for £1,600 (or £1920, including premium and tax).

Included in Lot No. 27 was Quentin Crisp's very first passport. It documents Mr. Crisp's first ever foreign travel. He went "abroad" to the United States, Canada, and Australia with his one-man show, An Evening with Quentin Crisp. Then he became New York City's most famous Resident Alien when he moved to the U.S. in 1981.

In the spring of 1999, Quentin Crisp sold his "famous typewriter" to Louis Colaianni for $300. It was "The Bad Hat," a Mr. Colaianni associate, who picked it up from Mr. Crisp to ship off to Mr. Colaianni — who had created a "play museum" in his living room in Kansas City, Missouri. He subsequently sold the typewriter to Stephen Milverton. Mr. Colaianni writes, "I am hoping the items are again in good hands."

Here is what Bonhams listed for the typewriter's sale:

Quentin Crisp's typewriter and passport, the typewriter being a black Remington 'Home Portable' (bearing the proud claim that it was 'Assembled by British Labour at the Remington Typewriter Factory, London'), with ribbon still in place, and original carrying case, a yellow label attached to the handle bearing the autograph inscription: "Crisp/ 129 Beaufort St/ London,/ England" [this being the famously squalid bed-sit, where he wrote The Naked Civil Servant and which inspired Pinter's first play, The Room], evidence of use but overall in good condition; the passport made out to "Mr Quentin Crisp", signed by him, and listing his occupation as "Writer", his place of birth as Carshalton, his date of birth as Christmas Day 1908, and his height as 1.68 m., the photograph showing him in studied pose wearing a polka-dot cravat, with US and Australian visa stamps, subsequent cancellation stamps and clipped corner, blue cloth cover as issued, with an accompanying 'Real Morocco' traveller's wallet, Passport Office, London, 15 September 1977.

QUENTIN CRISP'S PASSPORT AND THE TYPEWRITER ON WHICH HE WROTE 'THE NAKED CIVIL SERVANT'. Included in the lot is an autograph letter signed by Crisp: "Many long, dark years ago, my career as a writer was launched on and with this typewriter. Painfully it spelt out The Naked Civil Servant and many more trivial works. As you will find this machine is still operable. It is only I who am broken by time, useless, defunct" (the letter in ballpoint, his signature in felt-tip pen). Also included is a letter by its subsequent owner, Louis Colaianni of the Quentin Crisp Museum, passing it on to the present owner: "Quentin Crisp... brought it from England to America when he moved to New York City, in 1981. There, for many years, it sat in his apartment atop a pile of books and papers. He no longer used it because one of his hands had become frozen with arthritis. His one misgiving about passing the typewriter on to me was that it would no longer be there to prop up his lamp. I have discovered that if you type on this typewriter it is possible to channel the spirit of Mr Crisp. Quentin has enjoyed writing notes (through me) to various museum visitors who never had the pleasure of knowing him. Please feel free to carry on this tradition".

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