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Kitty still pines for his dearest Dub

Andrew O’Hagan: Gossip, 6 February 2014

Becoming a Londoner: A Diary 
by David Plante.
Bloomsbury, 534 pp., £20, September 2013, 978 1 4088 3975 1
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The Animals: Love Letters between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy 
edited by Katherine Bucknell.
Chatto, 481 pp., £25, September 2013, 978 0 7011 8678 4
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... of Frances Partridge than, say, Jimi Hendrix. We hear of lunches at Chez Victor, where Spender and Isherwood giggle at jokes ‘all about Stephen’s boyfriends in Berlin’. And with every story young David rises in his own steely estimation. Stephen asked me to lunch with him at his club, the Garrick. I had never before been in a gentleman’s club. He told ...

Patriotic Gore

Michael Wood, 19 May 1983

by Gore Vidal.
Heinemann, 203 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 434 83076 3
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Pink Triangle and Yellow Star and Other Essays 1976-1982 
by Gore Vidal.
Heinemann, 278 pp., £10, July 1982, 0 434 83075 5
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... camps, Jews wore yellow stars while homosexualists wore pink triangles. I was present when Christopher Isherwood tried to make this point to a young Jewish movie producer. ‘After all,’ said Isherwood, ‘Hitler killed six hundred thousand homosexuals.’ The young man was not impressed. ‘But Hitler killed ...


Paul Driver, 23 January 1986

Dearest Bubushkin: Selected Letters and Diaries of Vera and Igor Stravinsky 
edited by Robert Craft.
Thames and Hudson, 239 pp., £25, October 1985, 0 500 01368 3
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Stravinsky: Selected Correspondence Vol. III 
edited by Robert Craft.
Faber, 543 pp., £35, October 1985, 0 571 13373 8
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... a fairly representative specimen (May 1957 – an uncosmopolitan month for the Stravinskys): 11. Isherwood and Don come for dinner. 15. Dinner with Gerald [Heard]. 16. Lunch with Christopher Isherwood and Don at MGM Studios. 17. Bob [Craft] records Gesualdo 2 to 5. 19. Aaron Copland for dinner. 22. Bob ...

Complaining about reviews

John Bayley, 23 May 1985

Mrs Henderson, and Other Stories 
by Francis Wyndham.
Cape, 160 pp., £8.50, April 1985, 0 224 02306 3
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... pattern: the urbane self-possession of Somerset Maugham, the seeming simplicity and eagerness of Christopher Isherwood, Denton Welch’s brio, and so on. The ghosts of such treatments are visible, enhancing the individuality of the one which Francis Wyndham uses to relate Ursula’s destiny and the unusual events in her life. The idea of such a ...

Sly Digs

Frank Kermode: E.M. Forster as Critic, 25 September 2008

‘The Creator as Critic’ and Other Writings 
by E.M. Forster, edited by Jeffrey Heath.
Dundurn, 814 pp., £45, March 2008, 978 1 55002 522 4
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... I should like to have done’. They included Rosamund Lehmann, William Plomer, John Hampson and Christopher Isherwood, whose second novel, The Memorial, he especially, and justly, admired. Isherwood and Plomer were friends and Lehmann an acquaintance, but such coincidences sometimes occur without damage to ...

Young Wystan

Ian Hamilton, 8 September 1994

Juvenilia: Poems 1922-28 
by W.H. Auden, edited by Katherine Bucknell.
Faber, 263 pp., £25, July 1994, 0 571 17140 0
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... his years. Memoirists of his schooldays speak of him as having been almost spookily unboyish. Even Christopher Isherwood, who later on would enjoy noting his friend’s ‘stumpy, immature fingers’ and ‘babyishly shapeless’ ankles, found it hard to view him with full-hearted condescension: ‘I remember him chiefly for ... his smirking, tantalising ...


John Bayley, 6 September 1984

The Diary of Virginia Woolf. Vol. V: 1936-1941 
edited by Anne Olivier Bell and Andrew McNeillie.
Chatto, 402 pp., £17.50, June 1984, 0 7012 0566 0
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Deceived with Kindness: A Bloomsbury Childhood 
by Angelica Garnett.
Chatto, 181 pp., £9.95, August 1984, 0 7011 2821 6
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... Virginia Woolf wants to pull down the factory, to operate face to face in the open air. Christopher Isherwood, in some ways her most affectionate and enthusiastic disciple, went through the motions of restating her formula at the outset of some of his own fictions. He is the passive recording camera. Of course nothing could be less true of the ...

Peter Conrad’s Flight from Precision

Richard Poirier, 17 July 1980

Imagining America 
by Peter Conrad.
Routledge, 319 pp., £7.50, May 1980, 0 7100 0370 6
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... America’), W.H. Auden (‘Theological America’), Aldous Huxley (Psychedelic America’), and Christopher Isherwood (‘Mystical America’). As the chapter titles suggest, each of these writers is supposed to see America as if it were shaped by a literary genre or in conformity to some cluster of images. America for the Trollopes and Dickens ...
Dance till the stars come down 
by Frances Spalding.
Hodder, 271 pp., £25, May 1991, 0 340 48555 8
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Keith Vaughan 
by Malcolm Yorke.
Constable, 288 pp., £25, October 1990, 0 09 469780 9
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... in the context of his avowed admiration of Cézanne, to be a betrayal not an advance. In 1952 Christopher Isherwood gave E. M. Forster two bottles of claret and a painting by Vaughan. His work made an ideal gay to gay present; the male nude, or nude in landscape were his main, almost his only subjects, and the steady sale of his smaller works seems ...

Booze and Fags

Christopher Hitchens, 12 March 1992

Tobacco: A History 
by V.G. Kiernan.
Radius, 249 pp., £18.99, December 1991, 0 09 174216 1
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The Faber Book of Drink, Drinkers and Drinking 
edited by Simon Rae.
Faber, 554 pp., £15.99, November 1991, 0 571 16229 0
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... reviewed the emancipating influence of a good smoke on the writing capacities of Virginia Woolf, Christopher Isherwood, George Orwell and Compton Mackenzie, he poses the large question whether ‘with abstainers multiplying, we may soon have to ask whether literature is going to become impossible – or has already begun to be impossible.’ It’s ...

Jewish Blood

Michael Church, 7 February 1985

Moving Pictures: Memories of a Hollywood Prince 
by Budd Schulberg.
Penguin, 500 pp., £4.95, September 1984, 0 14 006769 8
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Baku to Baker Street: The Memoirs of Flora Solomon 
by Barnet Litvinoff.
Collins, 230 pp., £11.95, June 1984, 0 00 217094 9
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Wilfrid Israel: German Jewry’s Secret Ambassador 
by Naomi Shepherd.
Weidenfeld, 286 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 0 297 78308 4
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The Smiths of Moscow: A Story of Britons Abroad 
by Harvey Pitcher.
Swallow House Books, 176 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 905265 01 7
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Family Secrets 
by David Leitch.
Heinemann, 242 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 434 41345 3
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... invalid chair. Auden briefly and reluctantly tutored their son, and his nocturnal hospitality to Christopher Isherwood was announced with distaste by the family butler. Her long liaison with the darkly romantic Alexander Kerensky, which began in cloak-and-dagger circumstances in New York, was only one of many points at which her lifeline touched major ...

In the Company of Confreres

Terry Eagleton: ‘Modern British Fiction’, 12 December 2002

On Modern British Fiction 
edited by Zachary Leader.
Oxford, 328 pp., £14.99, October 2002, 0 19 924932 6
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... distinguishes between the cruel comedy of the former and the innocent humour of the latter, Christopher Hitchens quotes the unbeatable opening sentence of Waugh’s short story ‘Mr Loveday’s Little Outing’: ‘“You will not find your father greatly changed,” remarked Lady Moping as the car turned into the gates of the County Asylum.’ This is ...

I only want the OM

Christopher Tayler: Somerset Maugham, 1 September 2005

Somerset Maugham: A Life 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Vintage, 411 pp., £12, April 2005, 1 4000 3052 8
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... Ian – chastised him ‘by banging a serving spoon on his offensively prominent ear trumpet’. Christopher Isherwood, on the other hand, found that Maugham’s stammer ‘somehow made you feel that you were stammering, not he’. Raymond Mortimer noted his ‘very violent temper’. In his later years, visitors described him as ‘saurian’ or ...


Stephen Spender: Unnecessary Wars, 9 April 1992

... with the revolutionary teachings of the American psychologist Homer Lane. Auden invited his friend Isherwood to join him in Berlin. Thirty-five years later, in his autobiography Christopher and his Kind, Isherwood wrote: ‘To Christopher, Berlin meant ...


Edward Timms, 17 March 1988

The Temple 
by Stephen Spender.
Faber, 210 pp., £10.95, February 1988, 0 571 14785 2
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... as a sub-text in some of the most significant writings of his generation. For authors like Auden, Isherwood and Spender, the struggle for sexual freedom was a stimulus to political dissent. Around 1930, the centre of gravity both of their lives and of their writings was displaced to Weimar Germany, where a Reichstag committee on the penal code had resolved to ...

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