Date: Fri 21-May-1999
Southern California Library Acquires Noted Author's Diaries, Letter
SAN MARINO, CALIF. (AP) -- The Huntington Library announced May 10 it has
acquired the full literary archives of famed writer Christopher Isherwood,
whose stories about pre-World War II Berlin inspired the musical and
Oscar-winning movie Cabaret .
The collection of more than 2,000 pieces was partly bought by the library for
an undisclosed sum and partly donated as a gift from artist Don Bachardy,
Isherwood's executor and his companion for more than 30 years.
The collection is "spectacular -- a rich resource of literary drafts, diaries,
notes, correspondence files, photographs and annotated books that will support
scholarly research for years to come," library director David Zeidberg said.
Isherwood, who was born in Britain, made Southern California his home for
nearly a half-century. He was 81 when he died of cancer at his ocean-view home
in Santa Monica in 1985.
Isherwood wrote 25 books and collaborated on plays and screenplays. His 1935
semi-autobiographical collection, The Berlin Stories , became the basis for
the 1966 musical Cabaret , which was made into an Academy Award-winning 1972
In addition to drafts of Isherwood's works, the collection includes notebooks
and unpublished poems by his friend and sometime collaborator W.H. Auden,
including "an extraordinary joint diary" the men kept during a 1938 trip to
China, said Sara S. Hodson, the Huntington's curator of literary manuscripts.
The collection will be opened to scholars after it is catalogued and the
library plans a public exhibition based on the material in 2004, the 100th
anniversary of Isherwood's birth, Hodson said.
The acquisition is "a huge gift, not only to the Huntington but to Southern
California," said writer Joan Didion, a longtime friend of Isherwood.
"Christopher Isherwood was the strongest voice among those Europeans who
forever changed the culture of Los Angeles, took it into the world, made it
the least provincial of American cities," she said. "He was, all by himself,
what made Los Angeles interesting."
The private library, a major educational center with more than 600,000 books,
and an art gallery famed as the home of Thomas Gainsborough's "Blue Boy" are
housed in the onetime estate of railroad magnate Henry E. Huntington.
The Isherwood archives also were sought by the University of Southern
California, the University of California, Los Angeles, New York Public Library
and the University of Texas at Austin.