He was born at Wyberslegh Hall in the village of High Lane, Cheshire and attended Repton School where he met his lifelong friend the novelist Edward Upward. He studied at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, but left without taking a degree. He later briefly studied medicine at King's College, London.
In the late 1920s he met W H Auden and Stephen Spender. In 1929 he went to Berlin to join Auden, and remained there indulging his taste for young men. In 1932 he met and fell in love with a young German called Heinz Neddermeyer.
In 1938 Auden and Isherwood went to China and in 1939 to the United States. In 1953 he met the young artist Don Bachardy, and they lived together in Santa Monica, California, until Isherwood's death.
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