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Date: Fri 21-May-1999

Date: Fri 21-May-1999

Publication: Ant

Author: LIZAM

Quick Words:

Huntington-Isherwood-AP

Full Text:

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

film.

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and unpublished poems by his friend and sometime collaborator W.H. Auden,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.