E.M. Forster: A New Life

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 March, 2011, 12:00am

E.M. Forster: A New Life
by Wendy Moffat
Bloomsbury HK$143

Fans of E.M. Forster might think they know everything they need to about the writer who gave us A Room with a View, A Passage to India and Howard's End, as well as books of criticism and non-fiction. But Wendy Moffat's revelations will probably come as a surprise, especially to those with little inkling of how complicated his relationships were with other men and also how repressed he was, and how promiscuous he became after he 'parted with respectability' in Egypt at the age of 37. Forster was probably wise to keep his homosexuality quiet. This level of discretion was alien to Oscar Wilde, who Moffat reminds us was convicted in 1895 under a law that made homosexual relations between men illegal. A New Life presents new material about Forster's great love, a married policeman, as well as a no-holds-barred description of his relationship with an Egyptian tram conductor, whose subsequent marriage did not end the affair. This book will persuade you to read Maurice, published posthumously and, writes Moffat, Forster's 'clearest vision of what being homosexual meant to him'.