Christopher Isherwood

Christopher Isherwood (ish´ərwŏŏd), 1904–86, British-American author. After the appearance of his first novel, All the Conspirators (1928), Isherwood went to Germany. The four years he spent there furnished him with the material for what are probably his best novels, The Last of Mr. Norris (1935) and Goodbye to Berlin (1939; reissued as The Berlin Stories, 1946); these books formed the basis for John Van Druten's play, I Am a Camera (1951) and for the musical Cabaret (1966; film, 1972). The Berlin novels, which report on the period of social and political unrest during the Nazi rise to power, illustrate Isherwood's general concern with the problem of the intellectual in a tyrannical society.

A close friend of W. H. Auden, Isherwood collaborated with him on the dramas The Dog Beneath the Skin (1935), The Ascent of F6 (1936), and On the Frontier (1938), as well as on Journey to a War (1939), a book on China. Isherwood emigrated (1939) to the United States, becoming a citizen (1946). During the 1940s his interests turned to Hinduism; see his Essentials of Vedanta (1969). Among his later works are Prater Violet (1945), The World in the Evening (1954), Down There on a Visit (1962), A Single Man (1964), and Meeting by the River (1967) and a study of his parents, Kathleen and Frank (1971). Isherwood was an early advocate of discarding the taboos against homosexuality, a subject discussed in his memoir, Christopher and His Kind (1972).

See K. Bucknell, ed., Diaries (3 vol., 1997–2012) and The Animals: Love Letters between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy (2014); his Lost Years: A Memoir, 1945–1951 (2000); and J. J. Berg and C. Freeman, ed., Conversations with Christopher Isherwood (2001); biography by P. Parker (2004); studies by C. G. Heilbrun (1970), P. Piazza (1978), S. Wade (1991), and K. Ferres (1994).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Christopher Isherwood: Selected full-text books and articles

All the Conspirators: A Novel By Christopher Isherwood New Directions, 1958
On the Frontier: A Melodrama in Three Acts By W. H. Auden; Christopher Isherwood Random House, 1938
Lectures on Some Modern Poets By Margaret Foster Leclair; Beekman W. Cottrell; Erwin R. Steinberg; A. Fred Sochatoff; Dorothy W. Goodfellow Carnegie Institute of Technology, 1955
Librarian’s tip: "Poetic Drama in General and Auden and Isherwood in Particular" begins on p. 43
The Kingdom beyond Caste By Liston Pope Friendship Press, 1957
Librarian’s tip: "Christopher Isherwood" begins on p. 215
Men and Women Writers of the 1930s: The Dangerous Flood of History By Janet Montefiore Routledge, 1996
Librarian’s tip: "Devouring Mothers and Revengeful Spinsters: Women in the Plays of Auden, Isherwood and Spender" begins on p. 84
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