Tag Archives: E.M. Forster

LGBT History Month in King’s Library

King’s Library and Archives were pleased to join the rest of the College in marking the start of LGBT history month by putting on an exhibition in the Library featuring items written by and relating to prominent LGBT King’s figures, including the novelist E.M. Forster and codebreaker Alan Turing, along with a display of borrowable LGBT-themed books. We are delighted to be able to share the exhibition here.

One of the earliest books about sexual practices to cover the subject of homosexuality, albeit in a negative way, was Psychopathia sexualis (1886), written by the Austro-German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing (1840–1902). Here we see an English translation, by Kingsman Arthur Vivian Burbury (1896–1959).

Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Aberrations of sexual life (London, 1951) (Shelfmark: Store K Burb)

It was nearly thirty years later, in 1913, that novelist and Kingsman E.M. Forster (1879–1970) began his novel Maurice, which was ‘dedicated to a happier year’. He shared drafts with close friends and revised it throughout his life, taking their suggestions into account. It was published in 1971, shortly after he died. The 1987 Merchant Ivory adaptation of Maurice was partially filmed on location at King’s, and a number of Porters and Fellows appeared as extras in an early dining scene.

E.M. Forster, Carbon typescript of the 1932 version of Maurice. Penultimate page. (Reference: EMF/1/5/4)

E.M. Forster, Carbon typescript of the 1932 version of Maurice. Final page (Reference: EMF/1/5/4)

E.M. Forster, Carbon typescript of the 1932 version of Maurice. Opening (Reference: EMF/1/5/4)

Among E.M. Forster’s collection of books held in King’s College Library there is a copy of the first edition of Virginia Woolf’s fictional biography Orlando, given to him by the author herself. At the midpoint of the book the male Orlando goes to bed for several days and on awaking finds himself changed into a woman, remaining so for the rest of the book. Woolf dedicated Orlando to her great friend and lover Vita Sackville-West (1892–1962), who was the inspiration for the central character.

Virginia Woolf, Orlando: a biography (London, 1928) (Shelfmark: Forster.WOO.Orl.1928)

Some two decades later the now famous ‘Kinsey scale’ was created in order to demonstrate that sexuality does not fit into two discrete categories of homosexual and heterosexual. Instead, Alfred Kinsey (1894–1956) believed that sexuality was fluid and subject to change over time. The scale first appeared in his very influential work Sexual behaviour in the human male in 1948.

Alfred C. Kinsey [et al.], Sexual behaviour in the human male (Philadelphia, 1949) and Sexual behaviour in the human female (Philadelphia, 1953) (Shelfmarks: IKS Kin/1 and IKS Kin/2)

Famous WW2 codebreaker and Kingsman Alan Turing (1912–1954) sent this poignant letter to his friend Norman Routledge (1928-2013), also a Kingsman, shortly before his trial for gross indecency in 1952. To avoid prison Turing had to agree to hormonal treatment that amounted to chemical castration.

Letter from Alan Turing to Norman Routledge, February 1952 (Reference: AMT/D/14a)

                        Turing believes machines think
                        Turing lies with men
                        Therefore machines do not think
                                    Yours in distress

                                                                     Alan

This is E.M. Forster’s copy of a 1954 report by the Church of England issued for private circulation which advocated the legalisation of homosexual acts in private and the creation of a government commission on the subject. This appeared just two years after Turing’s tragically early death.

The problem of homosexuality: an interim report (London, 1954) (Shelfmark: Forster.CHU.Pro.1954)

In the same year Peter Wildeblood (1923–1999) was sent to prison for homosexuality along with Lord Montagu of Beaulieu and Michael Pitt-Rivers. He wrote an account of the infamous and high-profile trial and his time in prison which was published in 1955. He later gave evidence to the Wolfenden Committee. This is E.M. Forster’s copy of the book, showing Wildeblood’s description of what happened to him immediately after sentencing at the Winchester Assize Court.

Peter Wildeblood, Against the law (London, 1955) (Shelfmark: Forster.WILD.Aga.1955)

The ‘Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution’, chaired by John Wolfenden (1906–1985), first met in September 1954. Its report, published in 1957, recommended that homosexuality should be legalised, but it was not until 1967 that this became law. This is E.M. Forster’s copy.

Parliamentary debates (Hansard), House of Commons, official report, 596/22 (26 November 1958) (Shelfmark: Forster.PAR.1958)

In addition to our exhibition of rare materials we also displayed a sample of modern books from the holdings of King’s Library which can be borrowed by members of College.

On the day of the exhibition launch, King’s College, along with many other Cambridge Colleges, the University Library and the Guildhall, flew the rainbow flag which has been the symbol of LGBT pride for some four decades.

The rainbow flag being flown from the Gibbs building in King’s College.

JC

Jane Austen Open Day: An Online Exhibition – Part 2

On 18 July 2017, the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, King’s College Library mounted an exhibition featuring first editions of all of Austen’s novels, the autograph manuscript of her unfinished novel Sanditon, a manuscript letter to her publisher, a book from her library, early translations of her novels, and other rare treasures. The event was a great success and was attended by over 1,000 people. Some of this material was used in our Open Cambridge exhibition which attracted over 1,400 visitors during the weekend of 8-9 September. We present below some highlights from the second part of the exhibition for those who could not visit in person.

Persuasion was first printed in French in 1821. This copy of the second French edition (1828), freely translated by the Swiss novelist and translator Isabelle de Montolieu (1751–1832), belonged to Sir Geoffrey Keynes, the younger brother of John Maynard Keynes.

Jane Austen, La Famille Elliot ou l’Ancienne Inclination
(Paris: Arthus Bertrand, 1828)
Gilson.A.PeF.1828/1

Routledge’s Railway Library, intended for ‘amusement while travelling’, began in 1849 as a shameless imitation of Simms and McIntyre’s Parlour Library. The inclusion of Pride and Prejudice in the series in 1850 is a testament to the popularity of the novel at the time.

Pride and Prejudice. By Miss Austen, ‘The Railway Library’
(London: Routledge, 1850)
Gilson.A.Pr.1850a

Chapman and Hall’s series ‘Select Library of Fiction’ was closely associated with W.H. Smith, who carefully sought out copyrights, or reprint rights, of popular novels in order to publish yellowback editions for sale on his railway bookstalls. The series, which ran from 1854 until it was taken over by Ward, Lock in 1881, included at least thirty novels by Anthony Trollope, who had strong views on the poor quality of much railway literature. This is one of the few known copies of Sense and Sensibility in yellowback.

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility
(London: Chapman and Hall, 1870)
Warren.A.Se.1870

Lady Catherine is fully aware of her station in life and had no qualms in making others aware of this. This edition of Pride and Prejudice is illustrated by the Cambridge-based artist Charles Edmund Brock.

Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice
with twenty-four coloured illustrations by C. E. Brock
(London: Dent, 1907)
Gilson.A.Pr.1907b

In this scene from A. A. Milne’s stage adaptation, Jane and Mr Bennet discuss Lydia’s elopement with Mr Wickham, fully aware of the social implications and prospects for the family as a result.

A. A. Milne, Miss Elizabeth Bennet: A Play from “Pride and Prejudice”
(London: Chatto & Windus, 1936)
Gilson.A.Pr.Z.Mil

The 1940 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier, is notorious for drastically diverging from the novel and being excessively ‘Hollywoodized’ — and for putting the women in clothes based on the styles of the late 1820s and 30s. This publication, which coincides with the release of the film, bears the subtitle: ‘The complete text of the famous romantic love story from which the M-G-M movie starring Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson was made’.

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (New York: Triangle, 1940)
Gilson.A.Pr.1940

This Victorian edition of Mansfield Park was presented to E. M. Forster’s mother by his father, and was later inherited by Forster himself.

Jane Austen, Mansfield Park
(London: Routledge, 18—)
Forster.AUS.Man

One of the highlights in the exhibition was Jane Austen’s copy of Orlando furioso, signed by her on the fly-leaf, sold by the Austen-Leigh family, bought by Virginia Woolf, and inscribed by Woolf to John Maynard Keynes at Christmas 1936.

Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando furioso (trans. by John Hoole)
(London: Charles Bathurst, 1783)
Keynes.E.4.1

King’s College owns the manuscript of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel Sanditon, the last one on which she was working before she died on 18 July 1817. It is a rare surviving autograph manuscript of her fiction. It was given to King’s in 1930 by Jane’s great-great niece (Mary) Isabella Lefroy in memory of her sister Florence and Florence’s husband, the late Provost Augustus Austen Leigh who was a great-nephew of Jane. The booklets were made by Austen herself. The last writing is dated 18 March 1817. She died four months later.

The beginning of Sanditon

Sanditon, chapters 4-5

IJ/Harriet Alder/JC

“Only connect”: Laura Mary Forster and Charles Darwin

Amongst our fascinating collection of books from the personal library of E.M. Forster (1879-1970) are some which were passed down to him by relations. These include a number of volumes which once belonged to his aunt, Laura Mary Forster (1839-1924):

Laura Mary Forster's bookplate

The bookplate of Laura Mary Forster (1839-1924)

In his biography of Marianne Thornton, Laura’s aunt, E.M. Forster provides a brief outline of Laura’s character:

“Miss Forster never married … she followed the Thornton pattern of intellectual and philanthropic activity, but she could be censorious of her elders, and is constantly taking them up and dusting them before she replaces them, with a word of c0mmendation, on their shelf. In her later life she changed – became gentler, wiser, greater.”

Some of the volumes formerly owned by Laura are especially interesting, since they feature bindings with blind-tooled and stamped leatherwork of her own design. These include a volume by John Ruskin on the medieval Italian artist Giotto, which has a design based around circles, making reference to Giotto’s reputed ability to draw a perfect circle freehand without the aid of a compass.

Binding of Ruskin's work on Giotto

Front cover of: John Ruskin “Giotto and his works in Padua …” (London: Arundel Society, 1854. Forster.RUS.Gio.1854)

It is possible that Laura’s designs were influenced by her association with the arts and crafts designer William Morris (1834-1896), with whom she is known to have corresponded and sent samples of her work. The Arts and Crafts Exhibitions Society exhibit for 1889 featured several of Laura’s book-bindings and also embossed leather chair seats produced by Morris and Co. from her designs.

Another work, a three volume set of “The life and letters of Charles Darwin”, which was given to Laura by the editor, Darwin’s son Francis, features a floral design based on poppies.

Binding of volume 2 of "Life and letters of Charles Darwin"

Front cover of volume two of: Francis Darwin (ed.) “The life and letters of Charles Darwin…” (London: John Murray, 1887. Forster.DARW.Lif/2.1887)

This set is one of the jewels of the Forster collection, since attached inside the front cover of the first volume is an autograph letter from Charles Darwin himself, addressed to Laura and thanking her for allowing him to stay at her house in Surrey in 1879. A transcript of the letter appears in a footnote on page 224 of the third volume.

Darwin letter page 1

First page of a letter to Laura Mary Forster from Charles Darwin, written in 1879

Forster.DARW.Lif1.1887 letter page 02

Second page of Darwin’s letter to Laura

Transcript of Darwin letter

Transcript of Darwin’s letter, from volume three of “The life and letters of Charles Darwin”

Laura was a lifelong friend of Darwin’s eldest daughter Henrietta, with whom she conducted a lively correspondence. Many of these letters survive, including some which convey Laura’s leaning towards Darwinism. Whilst stating that: “it is against one’s taste to come from furry animals, tidal or otherwise”, and remaining steadfast in her Christian faith, she nevertheless believed that: “it is of practical use to get a just estimate of one’s place in creation”. Other relations regarded Darwinism with horror, and Laura relates wryly that one family acquaintance: “…expects every time he comes down to see me hung up on one of the large oaks opposite our house…”

Bibliography:

Forster, E.M. Marianne Thornton (André Deutsch, 2000)

Kelvin, N. (ed.) The collected letters of William Morris, Volume II, Part B: 1885-1888 (Princeton University Press, 1987)

AC