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Christopher Isherwood's Biography

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Christopher William Bradshaw Isherwood was born on 26 August 1904 in Cheshire, the son of a soldier, who died in World War I.

Christopher Isherwood went to Repton and then studied history at Corpus Christi College, but left after deliberately failing his tripos.

In the mid 1920s Isherwood resumed his acquaintance with W.H. Auden and through him met Stephen Spender. The three were to become an important left-of-centre literary grouping in the 1930s.

Christopher Isherwood wrote his first novel, All the Conspirators in 1928. After which he followed W.H. Auden to Berlin, which at the time had a more liberated attitude towards homosexuality.

Isherwood's works in the 1930s included The Memorial (1932), Mr Norris Changes Trains (1935) and Goodbye to Berlin (1939). The last two were based on his experience of the decadence of Berlin. The Broadway hit I am a Camera (1951) and the musical Cabaret(1968) were based on Isherwood's Berlin stories.

The opening to Goodbye to Berlin is perhaps the author's most famous quotation: "I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking."

In the thirties, Christopher Isherwood also collaborated with Auden on three verse plays.

In January 1939 the two of them emigrated to the USA and settled in Los Angeles. Isherwood took up Vedantism and became a follower of Swami Prabhavananda. At the same time he started writing scripts for Hollywood.

When America entered World War II Isherwood registered as a conscientious objector and intensified his interest in Vedantism until in 1945 he became an American citizen and set up home with Bill Caskey.

In 1953 Isherwood met Don Bachardy. They lived together until Isherwood's death on 4 January 1986. Christopher Isherwood had continued writing up until the early 1980s and many of his works were autobiographical.


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