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Works by
Christopher Isherwood
(Writer and
Long-Time Partner of Don Bachardy)

[1904 - 1986]

Profile created March 5, 2006
Updated July 20, 2009
  • Christopher and His Kind: 1929 - 1939 (1976)
    Christopher and His Kind is an intriguing slice of autobiography. It covers ten years in the writer's life-from 1929, when Isherwood left England to sp a week in Berlin and decided to stay there indefinitely, to the beginning of 1939, when he arrived in New York to start a life in the States.

    The book revealingly contrasts fact with fiction-the real people Isherwood met in Germany with the portraits of them in his two Berlin novels, who then appeared again, fictionalized to an even greater degree, in I Am a Camera and Cabaret.  But one does not need to be familiar with his body of work to appreciate the powerful and compelling story he tells here. Isherwood left Berlin in 1933, after Hitler came to power. For the next four years, he wandered around Europe-through Greece, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, and France-with a German boy named Heinz.

    The characters in the book include W.H. Auden, Stephen Sper, and E.M. Forster as well as the literary circles of Somerset Maugham and Virginia Woolf. Chronicling German refugees and the British colony in Portugal, the Group Theatre company (which performed the three Auden-Isherwood plays) and the film studio where he worked and which he used as the setting for Prater Violet, Christopher and His Kind is an engrossing and powerfully rered portrait of a decade in the life of a major writer.

  • Kathleen and Frank: Christopher Isherwood's Letters to his Mother (1971)

  • The Condor and the Cows (1949)

  • Lions and Shadows: An Education in the Twenties (1938)

  • Mortmere Stories (1994) with Edward Upward
    Although legendary in literary and academic circles, these sometimes gothic, sometimes grotesque, and often hilarious stories are published here for the first time. Christopher Isherwood and his old school friend, Edward Upward, were Cambridge undergraduates in the early 1920s when they engaged in a literary attack on the dons and the poshocracy"" the fashionable and wealthy students. The stories are important milestones, offering a glimpse of the initial literary styles of two authors who later became famous - the meticulous, experimental, intellectually rigorous Upward, and the prodigiously talented Isherwood creating an extraordinary world in an engaging manner.

  • October (1981) with Don Bachardy

  • Frankenstein: The True Story (1973) with Don Bachardy

  • A Meeting by the River (1967)

  • Exhumations (1966)
    When A Single Man was originally published, it shocked many by its frank, sympathetic, and moving portrayal of a gay man in midlife. George, the protagonist, is adjusting to life on his own after the sudden death of his partner, and determines to persist in the routines of his daily life; the course of A Single Man spans twenty-four hours in an ordinary day. An Englishman and a professor living in suburban Southern California, he is an outsider in every way, and his internal reflections and interactions with others reveal a man who loves being alive despite everyday injustices and loneliness. Wry, suddenly manic, constantly funny, surprisingly sad, this novel catches the texture of life itself.

  • A Single Man (1964)

  • Down There on a Visit (1962)

  • The World in the Evening (1954)

  • The Last of Mr. Norris (1952)

  • Prater Violet (1945)
    Originally published in 1945, Prater Violet is a stingingly satirical novel about the film industry. It centers around the production of the vacuous fictional melodrama Prater Violet, set in nineteenth-century Vienna, providing ironic counterpoint to tragic events as Hitler annexes the real Vienna of the 1930s. The novel features the vivid portraits of imperious, passionate, and witty Austrian director Friedrich Bergmann and his disciple, a genial young screenwriter-the fictionalized Christopher Isherwood.

  • The Berlin Stories (1945)
    First published in the 1930s, The Berlin Stories contains two astonishing related novels, The Last of Mr. Norris and Goodbye to Berlin, which are recognized today as classics of modern fiction. Isherwood magnificently captures 1931 Berlin: charming, with its avenues and cafés; marvelously grotesque, with its nightlife and dreamers; dangerous, with its vice and intrigue; powerful and seedy, with its mobs and millionaires—this is the period when Hitler was beginning his move to power. The Berlin Stories is inhabited by a wealth of characters: the unforgettable Sally Bowles, whose misadventures in the demimonde were popularized on the American stage and screen by Julie Harris in I Am A Camera and Liza Minnelli in Cabaret; Mr. Norris, the improbable old debauchee mysteriously caught between the Nazis and the Communists; plump Fräulein Schroeder, who thinks an operation to reduce the scale of her Büste might relieve her heart palpitations; and the distinguished and doomed Jewish family, the Landauers.

  • Goodbye to Berlin (1939)

  • Sally Bowles (1937)

  • Mr. Norris Changes Trains (1933)

  • First published in 1933, the novel portrays a series of encounters in Berlin between the narrator and the camp and mildly sinister Mr. Norris. Evoking the atmosphere in Berlin during the rise of the Nazis, the novel has achieved the status of a modern classic.
  • The Memorial: Portrait of a Family (1932)

  • Jacob's Hands: A Fable (1930s)  by Aldous Huxley and Christopher Isherwood
    Jacob Ericson is a quiet, kind, and somewhat simple man who works as a ranch hand for crotchety Professor Carter and his crippled daughter, Sharon, in California's Mojave Desert in the 1920s. Jacob is a good man, genuine, honorable, but hardly extraordinary--until he miraculously heals a dying calf with his hands.

    However, while he is content to cure the town's animals, it isn't long before he is persuaded to use his gift in other ways. When Sharon, whom he adores, begs him to heal her leg, he cannot deny her.

    His acquiescence causes them both to be exploited. Sharon runs away to Los Angeles to pursue her dreams of stardom. Jacob follows her, hopeful that they will meet again. And they do--as miserable performers in a seedy stage show. While they plan their escape from the dreary stage life, Jacob is asked to heal a self-absorbed young millionaire. And with his assent, Jacob's plans, and all of his dreams, begin to crumble.

    Written in tight, vivid, and seamlessly crafted prose, this previously unpublished tale by two of the greatest storytellers of the twentieth century shows the dangers a magical gift holds for even the noblest of characters.

  • All the Conspirators (1928)



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Claude J. Summers
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