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In Which Christopher Isherwood Signs In Twice. Jeff Baker, Boogieman in Lavender

In Which Christopher Isherwood Signs In Twice!

By Jeff Baker

I treated myself to a rather pricey early birthday present last month: a signed copy of Christopher Isherwood’s novel Prater Violet.

The autograph from Isherwood (1904-1988) was what I paid an extra penny or two for. But I wound up getting more than I paid for. Not one, but two autographs, as well as something of a mystery.

First, a little background.

Christopher Isherwood was the well-traveled, openly Gay author of (among other works) “Mr. Norris Changes Trains” which inspired “Cabaret” and “A Solitary Man” which inspired the recent movie of the same name.

“Prater Violet” is Isherwood’s novel based on his time writing for the 1934 movie “Little Friend.”

Inside the front cover of my Third Edition copy, (apparently published the year the book came out, 1945) is not one but two Isherwood autographs.

The top one reads:

For Bill Emerson

looking forward to meeting him—-

Christopher Isherwood

March 1950

The second autograph, immediately beneath the first reads:

And now I’ve met him.

C, I.

Dec. 2, 1976

So, who was “him?” An author Isherwood wanted to meet? A possible hookup? A possible boyfriend?

Probably not Isherwood’s lifetime partner Don Bachardy, whom he met three years after the first autograph, on Valentine’s Day 1953. Besides, Isherwood would have probably mentioned the great love of his life by name if Bachardy had been the “him.” Besides, Isherwood probably met “him” closer to the time of the second signature.

Who was Bill Emerson? I don’t know and I did a search for an Emerson who knew Isherwood with no luck. Was Emerson the “him?” Could be. Maybe Isherwood signed the book for Emerson without having met him yet? Prosaic but possible.

Isherwood kept busy, wrote more books and kept his relationship with artist Don Bachardy, even though they were occasionally “on-again off-again.” In the end, they were in love and Bachardy still lives in the house they shared for years.

A writer encounters a good many people and the unnamed “him” was one of them. His identity may be lost to history. But the brief, personal glimpse into Isherwood’s private life made me smile. But in the end, the famous author kept his secrets.

So, that’s it. A mystery and sort of an unpublished story by Christopher Isherwood.

Here is a link to the Gay Influence’s blog’s post on Isherwood and Bachardy:

Jeff Baker blogs about reading or writing sci-fi, fantasy and horror and other sundry matters on or about the thirteenth of every month. His fiction has been published in “The Necronomicon of Solar Pons” among other places, and his non-fiction has appeared on the “Amazing Stories” website. He and his husband Darryl both have seen “Cabaret” many times, and they both believe in true love. He regularly blogs and posts fiction on his website wastes time on Facebook at:

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