Christopher Isherwood

Christopher Isherwood

Christopher Isherwood was a novelist, playwright, screen-writer, autobiographer, and diarist. He was also homosexual and made this a theme of some of his writing. He was born near Manchester in the north of England in 1904, became a U.S. citizen in 1946, and died at home in Santa Monica, California in January 1986.Isherwood was the grandson and heir of a country squire, and his boyhood was privileged. With a school friend, Wystan Auden, he wrote three plays—The Dog Beneath the Skin (1932), The Ascent of F6 (1936), and On the Frontier (1938). Isherwood tells the story in his first autobiography, Lions and Shadows.In 1925, Isherwood was asked to leave Cambridge University after writing joke answers on his second-year exams. He briefly attended medical school, and progressed with his first two novels, All the Conspirators (1928) and The Memorial (1932). In 1930, he moved to Berlin where he taught English, dabbled in communism, and enthusiastically explored his homosexuality. His experiences there, provided the material for Mr. Norris Changes Trains (1935) and Goodbye to Berlin (1938), still his most famous book.In Berlin in 1932, he also began an important relationship with a young German, Heinz Neddermeyer, with whom he fled the Nazis in 1933. Neddermeyer was refused entry to England on his second visit in 1934, and the pair moved restlessly about Europe until they were finally separated when Neddermeyer was arrested by the Gestapo in May 1937.In 1938, Isherwood sailed with Auden to China to write Journey to a War (1939), about the Sino-Japanese conflict. They returned to England and Isherwood went on to Hollywood to look for movie-writing work. He also became a disciple of the Ramakrishna monk, Swami Prabhavananda, head of the Vedanta Society of Southern California. He decided not to take monastic vows, but he remained a Hindu for the rest of his life, serving, praying, and lecturing in the temple every week and writing a biography, Ramakrishna and His Disciples (1965).In 1945, Isherwood published Prater Violet, fictionalizing his first movie writing job in London in 1933-1934. In Hollywood, he spent the start of the 1950s fighting his way free of a destructive five-year affair with an attractive and undisciplined American photographer, William Caskey. Caskey took the photographs for Isherwood’s travel book about South America, The Condor and The Cows (1947). Isherwood’s sixth novel, The World in the Evening (1954), written mostly during this period, was less successful than earlier ones.In 1953, he fell in love with Don Bachardy, an eighteen-year-old college student born and raised in Los Angeles. They were to remain together until Isherwood’s death. In 1961, Isherwood and completed the final revisions to his new novel Down There on a Visit (1962). Their relationship nearly ended in 1963, and Isherwood moved out of their Santa Monica house. This dark period underpins Isherwood’s masterpiece A Single Man (1964).Isherwood wrote another novel, A Meeting by the River (1967), about two brothers, but he gave up writing fiction and turned entirely to autobiography. In Kathleen and Frank (1971), he drew on the letters and diaries of his parents. In Christopher and His Kind (1976), he returned to the 1930s to tell, as a publicly avowed homosexual, the real story of his life in Berlin and his wanderings with Heinz Neddermeyer. The book made him a hero of gay liberation and a national celebrity all over again but now in his true, political and personal identity. His last book, My Guru and His Disciple (1980), records with similar honesty his conversion to Hinduism and his devotion to Swami Prabhavananda.http://www.isherwoodfoundation.org/bi...
The Sixties, Christopher Isherwood
Christopher Isherwood
The Sixties
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Liberation, Christopher Isherwood
Christopher Isherwood
Liberation
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