The Gay Times of Christopher Isherwood

Very few gay men lived quite as gaily as Christopher Isherwood. At the age of 24, after attempting to go the normal route by studying medicine at King’s College in London, Isherwood gave into his unquellable carnal desires to go to Berlin with W.H. Auden and chuck the straight life for good.

Leather daddy
Leather daddy
While in Berlin, Isherwood fell in love with a young boy (Jean Genet would approve) named Heinz Neddermeyer, who was eventually arrested for being a draft dodger upon returning to Germany in 1937 after a brief bout of traveling through Europe with Isherwood. Things fell apart when Neddermeyer was sentenced to prison followed by two years of mandatory military service.
Isherwood with life partner Don Bachardy
Isherwood with life partner Don Bachardy
Ultimately, Isherwood would find his way to portrait artist and life partner Don Bachardy. The two met on the beach in Santa Monica when Isherwood was forty-eight and Bachardy was eighteen. In between tending to his friendships with Truman Capote and Aldous Huxley, Isherwood also finished working on the novel The World in the Evening in 1954.
Cover for Isherwood's critically acclaimed A Single Man
Cover for Isherwood’s critically acclaimed A Single Man
Life went on quite quaintly for Isherwood and Bachardy, who was also a draughtsman in addition to making a full-time hobby out of painting portraits of his great love. With the release of A Single Man in 1964 (which would also go on to be an amazing film directed by Tom Ford in 2009), Isherwood reached his last great career peak (unless you count Bob Fosse’s adaptation of Cabaret). One might say that his wildest times were in Berlin, but, in many ways, the wildest thing of all sometimes is simply to settle down–especially as a gay man. Somewhat unsurprisingly, however, Isherwood died of prostate cancer.