Howards End (1910) is an ambitious novel concerned with different groups within the Edwardian middle-class, represented by the Schlegels, bohemian intellectuals; the Wilcoxes, thoughtless aristocrats; and the Basts, members of the struggling lower middle-class. Howards End was adapted as a film in 1992 by Merchant-Ivory. The film received nine Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture for Ismail Merchant and Best Director for James Ivory. It stars Anthony Hopkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Helena Bonham Carter, Emma Thompson, and James Wilby. The film won three Academy Awards including Art Direction, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s screenplay, and Emma Thompson for Best Actress.
Forster deserves an honored spot as a Gay Icon. He was not only one of the finest novelists of 20th century but he was also a tireless defender of humane values.
Forster had two great loves in his life. Remember, homosexuality in Britain was illegal and punishable with a prison sentence in that era. Like other queer Edwardians, Forster found a sort of freedom exploring the far-flung spots of The British Empire like Egypt and India. Foster’s first great love was Muhammad el-Adl, a young Egyptian tram conductor.
“I have plunged into an anxious but very beautiful affair. It seemed to me, and I proved right, that something precious was being offered me and that I was offering something that might be thought precious. I should have been right to take the plunge, because if you pass life by its jolly well going to pass you by in the future. If you’re frightened it’s all right, that’s no harm; fear is an emotion. But by some trick of the nerves I happen not to be frightened.”
The second great love of his life was an English policeman, Bob Buckingham, who he met in 1930. Their love affair continued, perhaps even intensified, after Buckingham got married. The Buckinghams accommodated Forster in their relationship, with May Buckingham, the wife, enjoying his company before handing off the writer to her husband for the weekends. Only someone with Forster’s skill and imagination could have maintained such a daring, yet sweet, relationship over so many years. Forster died of a stroke in 1970 at 91-years-old, at the Buckinghams’ home in Coventry. His ashes, mingled with those of Buckingham, were later scattered in the rose garden of Coventry’s crematorium.