Maurice: A Novel
Originally written in 1913-1914, Maurice was published posthumously in 1971. Forster did not seek publication during his lifetime because he wanted the novel to have a happy ending and was concerned this would be too controversial for the period.
In 1960, Forster wrote:
A happy ending was imperative. I shouldn’t have bothered to write otherwise. I was determined that in fiction anyway two men should fall in love and remain in it for the ever and ever that fiction allows, and in this sense Maurice and Alec still roam the greenwood. I dedicated it ‘to a happier year’ and not altogether vainly. Happiness is its keynote – which by the way has had an unexpected result: it has made the book more difficult to publish… If it ended unhappily, with a lad dangling from a noose or with a suicide pact, all would be well, for there is no pornography or seduction of minors. But the lovers get away unpunished and consequently recommend crime.
The relationship between the protagonist, Maurice Hall, and Alec Scudder was inspired by the relationship of Forster's friend, poet Edward Carpenter, and his partner George Merrill.
Set in the elegant Edwardian world of Cambridge undergraduate life, this story by a master novelist introduces us to Maurice Hall when he is fourteen. We follow him through public school and Cambridge, and into his father's firm. In a highly structured society, Maurice is a conventional young man in almost every way―except that he is homosexual.
Written during 1913 and 1914, immediately after Howards End, and not published until 1971, Maurice was ahead of its time in its theme and in its affirmation that love between men can be happy. "Happiness," Forster wrote, "is its keynote.... In Maurice I tried to create a character who was completely unlike myself or what I supposed myself to be: someone handsome, healthy, bodily attractive, mentally torpid, not a bad businessman and rather a snob. Into this mixture I dropped an ingredient that puzzles him, wakes him up, torments him and finally saves him."
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