Last week, I taught E. M. Forster’s Maurice for the first time in several years. The last (and only other) time I taught it, I didn’t think it went very well. This time I taught it in my Major English Authors class, which is focusing on British Lesbian and Gay writers. I think it went pretty well.

Forster wrote Maurice in 1913/14, but it wasn’t published until after his death in 1970. The novel relates the story of Maurice, a suburban, middle class English boy (and later man) who comes to understand that he prefers men to women. The novel is impossibly romantic, but it provides an interesting glimpse of Forster’s ideas of the origins and experiences of homosexuality.

Maurice holds a special place in my life. It is literally the novel (and film adaptation) that helped me come out. I was “struggling” with my sexuality when I happened upon the movie version of the novel on one of the cable movie channels (my dad worked for a cable company, so we had all of the pay channels). The first time I stumbled across it, I only saw one scene, one in which Clive, played by Hugh Grant, and Maurice, played by James Wilby, lay on a bed together. Maybe my parents were around or something, but I quickly turned the channel. I then looked up what movie it was in the guidebook and found out when it was playing again. I often stayed up late at night after everyone else had gone to bed watching movies. Fortunately, Maurice was playing late one night a few days later. I found a copy of the novel and read it too (though I can’t remember if I read the novel before seeing the movie or vice versa.)

The first scene I saw is about 5:40 into this clip:

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