Book cover of The Memorial by Christopher Isherwood published by the Hogarth Press, with a blue drawing of a tree between two large faces and blue text

The Memorial: Portrait of a Family

Transcript below

Brandon Taylor: It’s a remarkable cover and so eerie and so strange. So Christopher Isherwood becoming this incredibly important young writer who is writing so much about contemporary life, both at home and abroad in Berlin and, of course, he would write the books that would become the hit musical Cabaret, which I found out only recently. That was not a thing that I knew until I watched the show Fosse/Verdon, and they were doing Cabaret, and I got very interested in Cabaret and wanted to know where it had come from, and it turns out it came from Christopher Isherwood. And Christopher Isherwood, also being this incredible icon in queer literature, is writing some of the first dispatches of contemporary or modern gay life in the twentieth century. And the fact that Virginia Woolf published Isherwood on the Hogarth Press and clearly saw in him an important young talent to sponsor and support, and especially those books on Berlin, and I think it’s just incredible the fact that Isherwood is still being read today, and had it not been for a press like Hogarth Press that could take risks on younger writers, would we have the, you know, the canon that we have? And it has this incredible, I think, incredible role in the history of modern English language literature and anglophone literature. 

Francesca Wade: Yeah. Yeah, I think Isherwood is part of this kind of younger generation, along with people like Stephen Spender, John Lehmann, who came on to the Hogarth Press as a kind of assistant, wanted to really foster and saw the potential for the Hogarth Press to really be a kind of, you know, lab for these young writers who were finding their way in writing about the Spanish Civil War and, you know, life across Europe at this very febrile time, and the Woolfs went with it, is really amazing.

Brandon Taylor: Yeah, one of the things I find amazing is that behind every sort of cult classic from this time period, like Virginia Woolf is somewhere, she’s had some hand in it all and shaping what was then this new, bold, almost brash kind of writing, both in attitude and in subject matter. I think they really walked the walk and talked the talk. 

End of Transcript