Cambridge, Cambridge CB2, Regno Unito
1 Wilton St, Belgravia, London
SW1X 7AF, Regno Unito
28 Portman Square, Marylebone, London W1H,
Christopher William Graham Wood was born on February 18, 1900, in Lambeth, Surrey, in a family descending from the Plantagenets. His mother died in childbirth, his father, Graham Wood, remarried soon after and died as well not much later. Wood became the heir to the grocery fortune of Petty, Wood, and Co., established in 1816: 101,556 pounds in 1905 under the guardianship of his stepmother.
Wood attended University of Cambridge but did not complete his degree. Apparently he was not "model" student: on April 30, 1920, he was summoned for causing obstruction with a car at Market-hill. W.J.H. Sprott was a friend of Wood from this time. Christopher Isherwood described Wood as "the spoilt, wayward younger son, with his airplane, his musical boxes, his superbicycle and all his other dangerous or expensive amusements and toys." E.M. Forster did not like him and described him as "that shit."
Wood met Gerald Heard in the mid-1920s and started a relationship that would last till Heard's death. According to William H. Forthman, "Gerald was very attached to Chris. They were a real couple. [...] Before coming to California, Gerald had become celibate. Chris had a series of boyfriends. Some of these young men were not very reputable, but Gerald still had this great affection for Christopher. It was like having a relative you love but are always trying to reform". Heard described Wood in a 1926 letter to Naomi Mitchison: "[he] has nothing to do save play—piano, etc: lacking (through parental foresight in accumulating and then dying) economic urge, wavy hair, 26 and somehow appealing". In 1927, Heard moved in with Wood at 1A Wilton Street, Belgravia.
In 1929, Wood and Heard moved to 28 Portman Square, West End, a modern flat overlooking the roof garden of Selfridges department store. According to Falby, "Wood looked after Heard's material needs, and his inheritance allowed Heard a better lifestyle than he could have achieved on his own." According to John Roger Barrie, "Heard embraced celibacy in 1934, when he began to practice meditation and ended his sexual relationship with Christopher Wood. Heard maintained unbroken celibacy throughout the remainder of his life. [...] His relationship henceforth with Wood was platonic." On April 7, 1937, Wood and Heard moved to the United States travelling in the same ocean liner as Aldous Huxley, his wife Maria Nys and their son Matthew. Wood rented an house at Laurel Canyon and Heard lived in a cottage behind it, 8766 Arlene Terrace.
W.H. Auden and
Christopher Isherwood had
left England in January 1939. Auden stayed in New York, but Isherwood
went on to Los Angeles, where he joined
still closer friends, Christopher Wood and
Gerald Heard, who had
emigrated along with
Aldous Huxley, Maria Nys,
and son Matthew Huxley two years before.
Rupert Barneby obtained a
new passport in June, and by October 1939 the two men were in New York.
Toward the end of his life, Heard was given a bit of financial assistance by Henry Luce and Clare Booth Luce. Heard died on 14 August 1971 at his home in Santa Monica, California, of the effects of several earlier strokes he had, beginning in 1966.
Christopher Wood died in 1976.
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- ^ cite book|last1=Howard|first1=Joseph Jackson|last2=Crisp|first2=Frederick Arthur|title=Visitation of England and Wales|date=1902|url=https://archive.org/details/visitationofengl10howa|accessdate=12 January 2018
- ^ cite web|title=Over 200 years of innovation|url=http://www.pettywood.co.uk/about|website=pettywood|accessdate=12 January 2018
- ^ Cambridge Daily News Cambridgeshire, England, 30 Apr 1920
- ^ Isherwood 1997, p. 21
- ^ Between the Pigeonholes: Gerald Heard, 1889-1971 By Alison Falby, Cambridge Scholars Publishing
- ^ cite book|last1=Lattin|first1=Don|title=Distilled Spirits: Getting High, Then Sober, with a Famous Writer, a Forgotten Philosopher, and a Hopeless Drunk|date=2012|publisher=University of California Press|page=46|url=https://books.google.it/books?id=xBIgjIfhN-gC&pg=PA46|accessdate=12 January 2018