Papers of Christopher Isherwood, 1864-1997 (bulk 1925-1985)


Descriptive Summary

Title: Papers of Christopher Isherwood, 1864-1997 (bulk 1925-1985)
Dates: 1864-1997
Collection Number: CI 1-4085, FAC 1346-1397
Creator/Collector: Isherwood, Christopher, 1904-1986
Extent: Approximately 3,000 items
Repository: Huntington Library. Manuscripts Department
Abstract: Collection contains the correspondence and manuscripts of British-American writer Christopher Isherwood.
Language of Material: English


The collection is open to qualified researchers. Several of Isherwood's diaries are closed to all access until January 1, 2030. Other diaries that are open for research are fully cataloged and listed in the finding aid. Expurgated versions of the sealed diaries are being published, with two volumes issued thus far: Isherwood, Christopher, Diaries: Volume I, 1939-1960, edited by Katherine Bucknell (New York: HarperFlamingo, Michael DiCapua Books, 1997); and Isherwood, Christopher, Lost Years: A Memoir, 1945-1951, edited by Katherine Bucknell (New York: HarperCollins, 2000).

Publication Rights

Material by W. H. Auden has some restrictions regarding copying and permission to publish. Contact appropriate curator for this information.

Preferred Citation

Papers of Christopher Isherwood, 1864-1997 (bulk 1925-1985). Huntington Library. Manuscripts Department

Acquisition Information

Acquired as a gift and purchase from Don Bachardy, April 1999. Further material has been acquired from other sources, including two purchases by the Library Collectors' Council. This information is included in the finding aid and on the individual folders.

Biography/Administrative History

Christopher Isherwood (1904-1986), British-American author of All the conspirators (1928), The last of Mr. Norris (1935) and Good By to Berlin (1939; reissued as The Berlin stories, 1946), Prater Violet (1945), The world in the evening (1954), Down there on a visit (1962), A single man (1964), Meeting by the river (1967), Kathleen and Frank (1971), and others. 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). From 1928 to 1932, he lived in Germany, and in 1939 emigrated to the United States. Isherwood is known for his advocacy of discarding the taboos against homosexuality.

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection includes drafts of most of Isherwood's works, as well as extensive correspondence files containing letters from W.H. Auden, Truman Capote, E.M. Forster, John Lehmann, Stephen Spender, Edward Upward, Gore Vidal, Tennessee Williams, and others. There are important series of poems and other literary manuscripts by Auden and Spender. Also included are photographs, ephemera, and audio and videotapes. The correspondence files deal with the literary works of Isherwood and others, male homosexuality, his interest in Hinduism, etc. ǂb Included are correspondence of Isherwood parents, Frank Bradshaw-Isherwood and Kathleen Bradshaw-Isherwood, as well as diaries by Kathleen, containing references to the first Word War. Isherwood's library is housed in the Rare Books Department of The Huntington Library.

Indexing Terms

Authors, American - 20th century - Archives
Authors, English - 20th century - Archives
British Americans - Archives
Gay authors - Great Britain - Archives
Gay authors - United States - Archives
Hinduism - United States
Hinduism in literature
Male homosexuality
Male homosexuality in literature
World War, 1914-1918 - Personal narratives, British
Auden, W. H. (Wystan Hugh), 1907-1973
Bachardy, Don, 1934-
Britten, Benjamin, 1913-1976
Bradshaw-Isherwood, Frank
Bradshaw-Isherwood, Kathleen, 1868-1960
Capote, Truman, 1924-1984
Forster, E. M. (Edward Morgan), 1879-1970
Gielgud, John, 1904-2000
Greene, Graham, 1904-1991
Harris, Julie
Heard, Gerald, 1889-1971
Hockney, David
Huxley, Aldous, 1894-1963
Huxley, Laura Archera
Huxley, Maria
Kirstein, Lincoln, 1907-1996
Lehmann, John, 1907-
Maugham, W. Somerset (William Somerset), 1874-1965
Plomer, William, 1903-1973
Prabhavananda, Swami, 1893-1976
Salinger, J. D. (Jerome David), 1919-
Smith, Dodie, 1896-
Spender, Stephen, 1909-1995
Stravinsky, Igor, 1882-1971
Stravinsky, Vera
Upward, Edward
Vidal, Gore, 1925-
Viertel, Berthold
Wescott, Glenway, 1901-1987
Williams, Tennessee, 1911-1983
Vedanta Society
Germany - History - 1918-1933 - Sources
Great Britain - Intellectual life - 20th century
United States - Intellectual life - 20th century
Audio tapes
Letters (correspondence)
Manuscripts for publication
Personal papers

Additional collection guides