Born into the English landed gentry, the heir to a substantial country estate, Christopher Isherwood ended up in California, an American citizen and the disciple of a Hindu swami. En route, he became a leading writer of the 1930's generation, an unmatched chronicler of pre-Hitler Berlin, an experimental dramatist, a war reporter, a travel writer, a pacifist, a Hollywood screenwriter, a monk, and a grand old man of the emerging gay liberation movement. In this biography, the first to be written since Isherwood's death, and the only one with access to all Isherwood's papers, Peter Parker traces the long journey of a man who never felt at home wherever he lived.
Isherwood's travels were a means of escape: from his family, his class, his country, and the dead weight of the past. Parker reveals the truth about Isherwood's relationship with his war-hero father, his strong-willed mother, and his disturbed younger brother, Richard, who was also homosexual. He also draws upon a vast number of letters to describe Isherwood's complicated relationships with such lifelong friends as W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender, Edward Upward and John Lehmann. The result is a frank portrait of contradictions, a man searching for meaning in life, and one of the twentieth century's most significant writers.