Tate Britain Special Event

The Animals: Love Letters between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy

​David Hockney, Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy,1968, Acrylic on canvas, 83 1/2 x 119 1/2", Private Collection © David Hockney

​Join acclaimed actors Alan Cumming and Angus Wright for a reading of letters

Discover the extraordinary partnership between the novelist and screenwriter Christopher Isherwood and the artist Don Bachardy. The reading will take place in front of the 1968 portrait David Hockney painted of the pair, whose life and friendships placed them at the centre of the celebrity scene in 1960s California.

The Animals Podcast 

The Animals Podcast tells the love story of Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy through the eyes of a woman who could not resist reading their mail. Isherwood was an established writer when he met the eighteen-year-old Bachardy on the beach in Santa Monica in 1952. They spent the next three decades together, at the heart of the international creative community that was making the films, ballets, plays, books, and paintings of their era in Los Angeles, New York, and London. Their letters, written during periods apart, reveal their extraordinary devotion to one another and the tests their bond survived – public, professional tests as well as private, sexual and emotional ones. ​Acclaimed actors Simon Callow and Alan Cumming, writer and scholar Katherine Bucknell, director Susanna White and composer Edmund Jolliffe bring the letters to life in eight podcast episodes.


Alan Cumming has been described by Time Magazine as one of the most fun people in show business, by The New York Times as a ‘bawdy, countercultural sprite’ and by The Guardian as ‘European, weird, and sexually ambiguous’.

He has won over thirty awards for his humanitarianism and social activism, received both the Great Scot and Icon of Scotland awards from his homeland and was made an OBE (Officer of the British Empire) for his contributions to the arts and LGBT equality by the Queen – whose portrait was taken down when his was unveiled at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in 2014.

Alan Cumming is many things to many people – renaissance man, style icon, social activist, bon viveur – but to himself he is a story-teller and provocateur for hire. He lives in New York City and Edinburgh with his husband, illustrator Grant Shaffer, and their dogs, Jerry and Lala.

Angus Wright has worked extensively in theatre, film and television with roles in The Merchant of Venice, The Tragedy of Thomas Hobbes (RSC), Mrs Affleck, War Horse, St Joan, The Seagull, Dream Play, Stuff Happens, Three Sisters, Chips with Everything, and Mother Courage (National Theatre), among numerous other productions.

In collaboration with the Christopher Isherwood Foundation and The Animals Podcast.

Tate Britain

London SW1P 4RG
Plan your visit

Date & Time

14 May 2017 at 19.30–21.30