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At Home in the Huntington

John Sutherland: The Isherwood Archive, 10 June 1999

... home in Santa Monica. The Ransom Center has dovetailing collections of Spender, Connolly and John Lehmann material. NYPL is a main deposit of Auden’s literary remains. Of the five, only the Huntington is a private institution without a university affiliation. Since its foundation in 1929 it has been distinctly Anglophile, and conservative, in its taste ...

Poor Dear, How She Figures!

Alan Hollinghurst: Forster and His Mother, 3 January 2013

The Journals and Diaries of E.M. Forster Volumes I-III 
edited by Philip Gardner.
Pickering and Chatto, 813 pp., £275, February 2011, 978 1 84893 114 5
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... In 1929 E.M. Forster accompanied his close friend Florence Barger and her husband to a conference in South Africa, and kept a detailed journal of the two-month round trip. After the conference they left Pretoria to join a ship at the port of Beira in Mozambique: Levant at last – those trudging squares and triangles between houses that I remember from Port Said in 1912, a plank missing from the footbridge, natives grading into Portuguese without shame, a grilling sea-wall, its pavement burst up by the waves, houses built on white piles, with chickens ducks cookery and washing sharing the basement, a desolate and grilling public garden, and the sea full of floating brown pennies of oil ...

Glimmerings

Peter Robb, 20 June 1985

Selected Letters of E.M. ForsterVol. I: 1879-1920, Vol. II: 1921-1970 
edited by Mary Lago and P.N. Furbank.
Collins, 344 pp., £15.95, October 1983, 0 00 216718 2
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... value they may tell us, of what there is that makes their publication more than merely intrusive. Forster lived a long time, and there’s some sorry reading in the second of these volumes. To Joe Ackerley in 1947 from the USA: ‘the view from the window is the Californian desert, mistaken by me for the Nevadan ... we seem to have reached Nevada after all ...

The Human Frown

John Bayley, 21 February 1991

Samuel Butler: A Biography 
by Peter Raby.
Hogarth, 334 pp., £25, February 1991, 0 7012 0890 2
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... bad writing? But if Kipling or Wells might in their own ways have done Erewhon better, and E.M. Forster The Way of All Flesh, that does not affect Butler’s influence and individuality, his power to create himself as ‘master of his life’. It is significant that Virginia Woolf’s praise was for what was to become – had already become – the ...

The World of School

John Bayley, 28 September 1989

The Brideshead Generation: Evelyn Waugh and his Friends 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Weidenfeld, 523 pp., £17.95, September 1989, 0 297 79320 9
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Osbert: A Portrait of Osbert Lancaster 
by Richard Boston.
Collins, 256 pp., £17.50, August 1989, 0 00 216324 1
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Ackerley: A Life of J.R. Ackerley 
by Peter Parker.
Constable, 465 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 0 09 469000 6
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... His poem ‘Ghosts’, taken by Jack Squire for the London Mercury, brought a letter from E.M. Forster which led to a lifelong relationship. Forster’s Egyptian tram-driver, Mohammed el Adl, had recently died of consumption, and Forster was moved by the poem, in which a young man has ...

Fat and Fretful

John Bayley, 18 April 1996

Foreign Country: The Life of L.P. Hartley 
by Adrian Wright.
Deutsch, 304 pp., £17.99, March 1996, 0 233 98976 5
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... The only time L.P. Hartley met E.M. Forster they did not get on. Too much politeness, and mutual wariness. And what a comedy in contrasting physiques: Forster sharp, quizzical and birdlike; Hartley plump, vacant, moustached and apologetic, half walrus and half melting snowman, pipe in mouth ...

Pals

John Bayley, 23 May 1991

The Oxford Book of Friendship 
edited by D.J. Enright and David Rawlinson.
Oxford, 360 pp., £15, April 1991, 0 19 214190 2
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... but to have a ‘friend’ – no, it really won’t do. ‘I’m your friend,’ said Myfanwy to John as they crouched in the ‘dark and furry cupboard while the rest played hide-and-seek’. Betjeman got that about right.‘We’ve always been the greatest friends’ – that is the kind of thing the lady says about her dentist or accountant, or a woman ...

Young, Pleasant, Cheerful, Tidy, Bustling, Quiet

Dinah Birch: Mrs Dickens, 3 February 2011

The Other Dickens: A Life of Catherine Hogarth 
by Lillian Nayder.
Cornell, 359 pp., £22.95, December 2010, 978 0 8014 4787 7
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... thoughtfulness that he later accused her of lacking was especially hurtful. He wrote to his friend John Forster that she ‘wants to know whether you have “any books to send her”. If you have any literary rubbish on hand, please to shoot it here.’ She responded to every slight with unshakeable loyalty, even after Dickens had turned her out of the ...

Hourglass or Penny-Farthing?

Christopher Tayler: Damon Galgut, 30 July 2014

Arctic Summer 
by Damon Galgut.
Atlantic, 357 pp., £17.99, May 2014, 978 0 85789 718 3
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... Forster​ started writing his novel about India soon after getting home from his first trip there in 1913. During the 11 years he took to finish it, he wrote – but didn’t publish – a same-sex love story, Maurice; worked for the Red Cross in Egypt, where he had his first serious love affair; visited India again as secretary to the maharajah of Dewas; published two books on Alexandria and promoted Cavafy’s poetry; and issued many complaints about his work in progress ...

Diary

Julian Barnes: Burning Letters, 7 July 1988

... is he/she overrated? – they would quickly decline into paranoia. When Robert Frost died, John Berryman’s first response was It’s scary. Who’s Number One? Who’s Number One? Cal’s Number One, isn’t he? – which at least has the virtue of transparency. But as we modestly (and necessarily) insist that we’re just writers at work on our ...

A Terrible Bad Cold

John Sutherland, 27 September 1990

Dickens 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 1195 pp., £19.95, September 1990, 1 85619 000 5
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... the private Dickens beyond all exhumation. He largely succeeded thanks to his own vandalism and Forster’s loyal destructions and suppressions. We may speculate, but we will never know the inner Dickens which those burned papers would have revealed. The biographer must remain for ever fenced-off. Kaplan’s is an academic’s view of things. For him and ...

Martin Chuzzlewig

John Sutherland, 15 October 1987

Dickens’s Working Notes for his Novels 
edited by Harry Stone.
Chicago, 393 pp., £47.95, July 1987, 0 226 14590 5
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... took care to preserve his memoranda with the manuscripts of his works, and passed them on to Forster. In his life of Dickens, Forster alludes to the working notes but mainly leaves the impression that the author’s planning was principally carried out in conversation or correspondence with his faithful biographer. The ...

Something about her eyes

Patricia Beer, 24 June 1993

Daphne du Maurier 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 455 pp., £17.99, March 1993, 0 7011 3699 5
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... would themselves have sunk without trace. Interestingly, the opening paragraph of Margaret Forster’s Daphne du Maurier makes good use of this particular technique: ‘Sheet-lightning split the sky over London on the evening of 12 May 1907 and thunder rumbled long into the night. All day it had been sultry, the trees in Regent’s Park barely moving ...

No Clapping

Rosemary Hill: The Bloomsbury Memoir Club, 16 July 2014

The Bloomsbury Group Memoir Club 
by S.P. Rosenbaum, edited by James Haule.
Palgrave, 203 pp., £20, January 2014, 978 1 137 36035 9
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... have escaped such an audience as this that Sex played a large part in my uncle’s life.’ E.M. Forster was addressing an early meeting of the Bloomsbury Group’s Memoir Club, and was reading a paper about his closest male relation, the disliked, unmissed and now dead Uncle Willie. The evidence for Sex lay somewhere in William ...

Diary

Marina Warner: Why I Quit, 10 September 2014

... Essex, a place with a long history of boat-building and Dionysiac boho revels: Francis Bacon, John Deakin and ‘Dicky’ Chopping, who made a fortune designing the dust jackets for James Bond books, all drank in the Rose & Crown on the quayside at Wivenhoe. Constable condensed the dominant myth of the English countryside in his painting of a haywain ...

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