Pen and Ink: The Life and Work of Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy

  • James J. Berg


When the writer Christopher Isherwood met Don Bachardy in early 1953, both of them looked younger than their actual ages. In truth, Isherwood was 48 and Bachardy was 18. They met on the beach in Santa Monica, California, where Isherwood had lived for nearly fifteen years and where he had recently had a brief affair with Bachardy’s older brother, Ted. The story of Isherwood and Bachardy is the story of two artists, one rejuvenating his career and the other just beginning. Isherwood was the famous author of Mr Norris Changes Trains (1935) and Goodbye to Berlin (1939). Bachardy was a typical southern California teenager, looking for experience and direction in life. Over the years, Isherwood became increasingly public about his sexual orientation and included gay-themed material more explicitly in his fiction, switching to outright autobiography for his final works. Bachardy developed into a successful portrait artist, whose subjects include Hollywood celebrities, noted authors and composers, and Jerry Brown, the former Governor of California, whose official portrait Bachardy painted in 1984. What began as a beach fling grew into a thirty-year relationship that had long-lasting consequences for the life and work of both men. Together they became the ‘First Couple’ of the nascent gay rights movement.


Stage Adaptation Famous Author North American Literature Male Menopause Commercial Artist 
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© James J. Berg 2004

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  • James J. Berg

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