In 1952, Christopher Isherwood (Goodbye to Berlin) met the teenage Don Bachardy on Santa Monica beach. Defying convention, the two men began living together as an openly gay couple in an otherwise closeted Hollywood. Their relationship lasted until Isherwood’s death in 1986. In romantic letters to one another, the couple created the private world of the Animals. Christopher was ‘Dobbin’, a stubborn old workhorse; Don was the playful young white cat, ‘Kitty’. But Don needed to carve out his own identity – some of their longest sequences of letters were exchanged during his trips to London and New York to pursue his career as an artist and to widen his emotional and sexual horizons.
Don Bachardy is also a writer: his most celebrated book, The Stars in My Eyes, is about the people he has painted.