Olivia Laing at The New Statesman:
In 1952, the then 48-year-old Christopher Isherwood met a beautiful teenage boy on the beach in Santa Monica. None of his friends thought the liaison would last but it proved unexpectedly durable. Despite a 30-year age gap and affairs on both sides, the two men remained emphatically together until Isherwood’s death in 1986 – a relationship considerably longer-lasting than most Hollywood marriages.
Like many couples, they communicated in a private language, a sort of nursery camp in which they were cast as the “Animals”, sometimes beleaguered by the human world (the “Others”) and sometimes resplendent in their difference. The Animals were evidently well established by the time written communication began, on a trip to London in the winter of 1956. They make their inaugural appearance not in the first, rather shy letter from Isherwood but in Bachardy’s reply. “I miss rides through London on old Dobbin,” he writes, “and think a lot about him, sleeping in a strange stable, eating cold oats out of an ill-fitting feed bag and having no cat fur to keep him warm . . . And tell him an anxious Tabby is at the mercy of the RSPCA and counting the days till his return.”