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Christopher Isherwood

(1904—1986) writer


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(1904–86),

novelist, born in Cheshire. He made the acquaintance of Auden (at preparatory school) and Upward (at Repton); he and Upward were at Cambridge together. His first novels, All the Conspirators (1928) and The Memorial (1932), show the influence of E. M. Forster and V. Woolf; his own voice appears distinctly in Mr Norris Changes Trains (1935) and Goodbye to Berlin (1939), works which reflect his experiences of living in Berlin, 1929–33. Both novels are largely autobiographical and give a vivid portrait of Germany on the eve of Hitler's rise to power; the first is about a conman and double agent, the corrupt, seedy, emotional, and engaging Arthur Norris, and his adventures in the criminal and political underworld; the second is a series of sketches, of which the best‐known is the section ‘Sally Bowles’ (published independently in 1937). Sally is a cabaret artist, and her bohemian enterprises were later successfully dramatized in 1951 by John Van Druten as I Am a Camera, and turned into a stage musical in 1968 as Cabaret. Isherwood travelled widely in Europe after leaving Berlin, went to China with Auden in 1938, and in 1939 went with him to America; he became an American citizen in 1946.

He collaborated with Auden in the writing of The Ascent of F6 and several other works (see Auden), translated some of Brecht, and wrote the semi‐autobiographical Lions and Shadows (1938), in which his friends (Auden, Spender, Upward, V. Watkins, and others) appear under fictitious names. After settling near Hollywood, where he became a scriptwriter, he became interested in Hindu philosophy and Vedanta, influenced partly by A. Huxley and Gerald Heard, and translated the Bhagavad‐gitā (1944, with Swami Prabhavananda) and other Hindu classics. Novels written in America include Down There on a Visit (1962) and A Single Man (1964); Christopher and His Kind (1977) is a frank account of the homosexual affairs of his young manhood. See Isherwood: A Life Revealed (2004) by Peter Parker.

Subjects: Literature.


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Works by Christopher Isherwood

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