Christopher Isherwood; W.H. Auden

Christopher Isherwood; W.H. Auden, by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, July 1938 - NPG x15194 - © estate of Louise Dahl-Wolfe / Courtesy Staley-Wise Gallery, New York

© estate of Louise Dahl-Wolfe / Courtesy Staley-Wise Gallery, New York

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Christopher Isherwood; W.H. Auden

by Louise Dahl-Wolfe
toned bromide print, July 1938
9 7/8 in. x 8 1/8 in. (250 mm x 206 mm)
Given by the Britten estate, 1981
Photographs Collection
NPG x15194

Sittersback to top

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

Isherwood and Auden first met at preparatory school in Surrey. After a brief romantic relationship, the two became lifelong friends and literary collaborators. They travelled together to China to report on the Sino-Japanese war, and jointly produced the prose and verse book Journey to War (1939). They returned from China by way of America, and it was during this visit that they were both photographed in Central Park by pioneering fashion photographer, and Harper’s Bazaar contributor, Louise Dahl-Wolfe. A year later, both writers moved to New York. Isherwood published his novel Goodbye to Berlin (1937), with its famous opening line ‘I am a camera,’ just prior to their voyage.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • 100 Portraits, p. 114
  • Rogers, Malcolm, Camera Portraits, 1989 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 October 1989 - 21 January 1990), p. 231
  • Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 211

Placesback to top

  • Place made and portrayed: United States (Central Park, New York, United States)

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1938back to top

Current affairs

Britain pursues its policy of appeasement. At the Munich Agreement, Britain, France and Italy agreed to allow Hitler to seize the Sudetenland area of Czechoslovakia. The agreement was seen at the time as a triumph for peace, with Neville Chamberlain returning home brandishing the paper agreement and saying 'peace for our time.' Within six months Germany had occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia.

Art and science

Graham Greene publishes Brighton Rock. The novel follows the descent of Pinky, a teenage gang leader in Brighton's criminal underworld. The book examines the criminal mind and explores the themes of morality and sin - recurrent concerns for the Roman Catholic Author.
Glasgow hosts the Empire Exhibition; an £11 million celebration of the British Empire visited by 13 million people.


In its pursuit of 'Lebensraum' (living space), Germany annexes Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia with little opposition from the League of Nations. At home, the Nazis continued their escalating persecution of the Jews with 'Kristallnach' (the Night of Broken Glass), attacking Jewish homes, shops, businesses and synagogues, and taking Jewish men to concentration camps.

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