The Animals: Love Letters Between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy

Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy; Edited by Katherine Bucknell

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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The love story between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy—in their own words

The English novelist and screenwriter Christopher Isherwood was already famous as the author of Goodbye to Berlin when he met Don Bachardy, a California teenager, on the beach in Santa Monica in 1952. Within a year, they began to live together as an openly gay couple, defying convention in the closeted world of Hollywood. Isherwood was forty-eight; Bachardy was eighteen. The Animals is the testimony in letters to their extraordinary partnership, which lasted until Isherwood’s death in 1986—despite the thirty year age gap, affairs and jealousy (on both sides), the pressures of increasing celebrity, and the disdain of twentieth-century America for love between two men.
     The letters reveal the private world of the Animals: Isherwood was "Dobbin," a stubborn old workhorse; Bachardy was the rash, playful "Kitty." Isherwood had a gift for creating a safe and separate domestic milieu, necessary for a gay man in midtwentieth-century America. He drew Bachardy into his semi-secret realm, nourished Bachardy’s talent as a painter, and launched him into the artistic career that was first to threaten and eventually to secure their life together.
     The letters also tell of public achievements—the critical acclaim for A Single Man, the commercial success of Cabaret—and the bohemian whirl of friendships in Los Angeles, London, and New York with such stars as Truman Capote, Julie Harris, David Hockney, Vanessa Redgrave, Gore Vidal, and Tennessee Williams. Bold, transgressive, and playful, The Animals articulates the devotion, in tenderness and in storms, between two uniquely original spirits.

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Book Excerpts

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Wednesday [February 1, 1956]

High Lane, Cheshire1

 

Dearest Donny,

I wonder so much what you are doing, and I hope so much that you’re having fun and interesting adventures. Wednesday! And when you get this it will be Thursday—and then there will only be Friday, Saturday, Sunday … But I mustn’t get rattled. I keep looking out anxiously at the snow which fell last night and wondering if more will fall and block the roads. But I’ll get through somehow—like in that Courbet at the National Gallery.

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Reviews

Praise for The Animals: Love Letters Between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy

"Theirs is an enormous love, but it also clearly came with an enormous amount of work and care . . . One of the best surprises of the collection is what an excellent writer Bachardy is—wry, sharp and funny . . . These are tender, sweet, campy love letters we are given the privilege of reading, if we so choose." —Annalisa Quinn, NPR Books

“It is a fascinating sociological document while, like most exchanges between two people wrapped up in the tantalizing subject of themselves and each other, lacking very much real interest in the wider world.”  —DJ Taylor, The Spectator (London)

“In her excellent introduction to The Animals, Bucknell does a skillful job of trying to interpret the lovers’ talk for the reader. Apparently Bachardy reminded Isherwood of his younger self—and indeed there was a strong physical similarity. The letters end in 1970 and Isherwood died in 1986, survived by Bachardy. But thanks to The Animals Isherwood’s devotion lives on. As a typical sign-off from Dobbin put it: ‘Love from a devoted old horse who is waiting day and night with his saddle on, ready for his Kitty’s commands.’” —Mark Simpson, The Independent (London)

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About the Author

Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy; Edited by Katherine Bucknell

Christopher Isherwood (1902–1986) was born outside Manchester, England. He lived in Berlin from 1929 to 1933 and emigrated from Europe to the United States in 1939. A major figure in twentieth-century fiction and the gay rights movement, he wrote more than twenty books. Don Bachardy was born in Los Angeles in 1934. His artwork, which parallels David Hockney’s and anticipates Elizabeth Peyton’s, is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the de Young Museum, San Francisco; the Fogg Art Museum of Harvard University; and the National Portrait Gallery, London, among others. He lives in Santa Monica, California.

Christopher Isherwood
Don Bachardy
Katherine Bucknell

Frances Homolka
Christopher Isherwood

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Don Bachardy

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Available Formats and Book Details

The Animals: Love Letters Between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy
Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy; Edited by Katherine Bucknell

Hardcover

Hardcover
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
May 2014
Hardcover
ISBN: 9780374105174
ISBN10: 0374105170
6 x 9 inches, 528 pages, 52 Black-and-White Illustrations/Index
$30.00

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
May 2014
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9780374712112
ISBN10: 0374712115
528 pages, 52 Black-and-White Illustrations/Index
$14.99
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