Here is the definitive biography of one of the most exciting, influential, and elusive British writers of the twentieth century. Christopher Isherwood’s novels and short stories, including those that inspired the musical Cabaret, have always been assumed to be largely autobiographical. Based in part on Isherwood’s private papers, this fascinating book presents the real story of his life, a life that saw a relatively conventional boy become an acclaimed writer, mystic, and “grand old man” of the gay liberation movement. In the end, Isherwood portrays someone who misled as much as he revealed.
In addition to using Isherwood’s correspondence, unpublished diaries, and other previously unavailable sources in painting this clear and definitive portrait, Parker has also unearthed the author’s telling early works, including parodies, school memoirs, and even part of a crucial lost novel. Painstakingly researched and brilliantly written, Isherwood captures the fugitive reality of a man who has become a favorite artist and important symbol of an entire era in our life of letters. Published in the centenary of his birth, it will be read as long as Isherwood himself is.
UK Print – Picador, 2004
US Print – Random House, 2004
Praise for Isherwood
“This is not just a biography so fine that it convinces the reader that the particular task need never be undertaken again, a study which could justify the art of biography on its own, but quite simply a great book by any standards: great in the way a novel may be great. Elegantly written, psychologically acute, an exuberant projection of a marvellous narrative, it gathers together an enormous volume of unfamiliar evidence which both illuminates its own ostensible subject thoroughly and sheds new light on this whole fascinating period...” — Philip Hensher, Spectator
“By focusing throughout on his subject's ineradicable originality both as a writer and an individual (even at his feeblest, there has never been anyone quite like Isherwood), Parker has written a biography as fascinating to those who are already familiar with his work as those who are not - a 914-page page-turner.” —
Gilbert Adair, Evening Standard
“An unforgettable story, brilliantly collated from many sources” — Victoria Glendinning, Daily Telegraph
“A gripping evocation of a fine writer and a curiously lovable man” — Jeremy Lewis, Mail on Sunday
“A major – and healthily skeptical - biography” — Hilton Als, the New Yorker
“Immense and magnificent … "A Life Revealed” is a modest subtitle for such a daunting process of reconstruction and re-appraisal” — David Thomson, the New Republic