Christopher Isherwood (1904–86,) fully Christopher William Bradshaw-Isherwood, was a prolific Anglo-American writer who worked in many genres, comprising fiction, drama, film, travel, and autobiography. He immigrated to the USA in 1939, and became interested in Hindu philosophy.
Born in Disley, Cheshire, England, Isherwood was educated at Repton and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and studied medicine at King’s College London 1928–29, but gave it up to teach English in Berlin 1929–33. His best known works, Mr Norris Changes Trains (1935) and Goodbye to Berlin (1939,) were centered on his outsider’s view of the decadence of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Nazism.
In collaboration with poet W. H. Auden, a school friend, and later lover, Isherwood wrote three prose-verse plays with political overtones, which use Expressionist technique, music-hall parody, and ample symbolism to portray the social climate: The Dog Beneath the Skin (1935,) The Ascent of F6 (1937,) and On the Frontier (1938.)
Isherwood travelled in China with Auden in 1938 and wrote Journey to a War (1939.) ln 1939, he emigrated to California to be a script writer for MGM and took US citizenship in 1946. The Broadway hit I am a Camera (1951; film 1955,) and the musical Cabaret (1966; film 1972,) were based on his earlier Berlin stories, especially Sally Bowles (1937.) Later novels include Prater Violet (1945,) The World in the Evening (1954,) and Meeting by the River (1967.)
In the 1940s, Isherwood became much interested in oriental religion, specifically Vedanta philosophy. With Swami Prabhavananda, he produced an acclaimed fine translation of the Hindu religious classic The Bhagavad-Gita (1944) and a collection of the aphorisms of Patanjali (1953.)