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Christopher Isherwood Inside Out by Katherine Bucknell

Christopher Isherwood Inside Out by Katherine Bucknell


An engrossing new biography of the man whose writings about 1930s Berlin made him famous. From the editor of Isherwood’s diaries and letters.

Christopher Isherwood rejected the life he was born to and set out to make a different one. Heir to an English estate, he flunked out of university, moved to Berlin, was driven through Europe by the Nazis, and circled the globe before finally settling in Hollywood. There he adopted a new religion and continued to form the friendships – including an astounding number of romantic and sexual ones, often with other celebrated artists – through which he discovered himself.

Isherwood repeatedly fictionalised his friends and himself – from the detached ‘Christopher Isherwood’ of Goodbye to Berlin to George, the unapologetic middle-aged lover of men, in A Single Man, and the boldly out narrator of Christopher and His Kind. He was determined to portray his milieu appealingly to mainstream audiences in lucid, entertaining, often hilarious prose. Frankness about his sexuality, political beliefs and religion made him both a figurehead for the left and a target for the right. All the while, among the many public, constructed selves, an inmost self remained hidden.

Using a wealth of unpublished material, Christopher Isherwood Inside Out reveals the drama and complexity of Isherwood’s interior world. It tells how the traumas of his father’s death in World War I and his failure to protect his German lover from the Nazis were healed by his life as a monk in the 1940s, enabling him to commit unflinchingly to a sexually open relationship in the 1950s, and to come out as a ‘grand old man’ of the gay rights movement in the 1970s.

With this new biography, enriched by unlimited access to Isherwood’s partner Don Bachardy, Katherine Bucknell shows how Christopher Isherwood achieved a uniquely inspiring personal life. He effected lasting change in our culture, through both his literary works and the way he lived.




‘The best biography I’ve ever read. Christopher Isherwood, was a mindful, moral man, an example for all, and a wonderfully talented writer. The author, Katherine Bucknell, explores every moment of his life—English, German, American—and links them all to the vast ongoing project of his life and work. The book is long but every page is full of surprises.’ - Edmund White


‘Katherine Bucknell writes so well, the depth and width of her research is astonishing, and she brings Isherwood to life with vividness and acute perception. Her understanding of his complex character is truly remarkable, as well as those of his many different worlds on both sides of the Atlantic, and of his vast number of friends and lovers — Bachardy, of course in particular. She is also excellent on Isherwood’s work, which she writes about with exceptional vision and clarity. This biography is a magnificent achievement.’ - Selina Hastings, author of SYBILLE BEDFORD: A LIFE

  • Details

    Imprint: Chatto & Windus

    Publication Date: 20 June 2024

    ISBN: 9780701186388

    Extent: 864 pages

    Format: Hardback

Notice to European Customers

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Germany and Republic of Ireland: Due to a high return rate of parcels, we are sadly no longer shipping to Germany and the Republic of Ireland. 

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