In 1885, wealthy MP Henry Labouchere passed the Labouchere Amendment, making homosexual acts of ‘gross indecency’ illegal. The amendment and became known as the blackmailer’s charter and is estimated to have led to the conviction of tens of thousands of men, including, famously, Oscar Wilde and Alan Turing.
E M Forster, a friend of the Labouchere family, had a life-long ambivalent attitude towards his sexuality. Although open with his friends, he never declared his homosexuality publicly and his novel Maurice, a tale of homosexual love written in 1914, was only published posthumously. In a diary entry of 1964, Forster reflected that ‘I should have been a more famous writer if I had written or rather published more, but sex has prevented the latter’.
Andrew Lumsden tells the story of the complicated relationship between Forster and the Laboucheres, and how the backdrop of hostility embodied by the Amendment impacted on Forster’s attitude to his own sexuality and his writing.
Andrew Lumsden is a journalist and gay rights activist. He was an original Gay Liberation Front (GLF) Activist and co-founder of Gay News.
Tickets are free, but spaces are limited – book in advance to avoid missing out!
We are excited to say that on the day we’ll be running a FREE shuttle bus from Lewes train station to Charleston. Details TBC.
This event is part of OUTing the Past, an international festival of LGBT+ history. Find out more here.