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How EM Forster met his end in Coventry

November 21, 2017

While the BBC adaptation of the EM Forster novel, Howards End, is proving so popular, it might be of interest to Elementary What's On readers to learn that Forster himself actually died in Coventry.

  His ashes, mingled with those of his former lover, the policeman Bill Buckingham, are buried at Canley crematorium. Of course, it was a love that dared not speak its name in the early days of their relationship, which began in the 1930s, and stretched to embrace Bill's future bride, May Hockey. 

  The author, whose full name was Edward Morgan Forster, was a

witness at May and Bill's wedding and went on to became Godfather to their son Robin, who was christened Robin Morgan Buckingham. 

  I met the delightful and dynamic May Buckingham, then a retired nurse who went on to become a formidable charity fund raiser in Coventry. May told her me she and Bill welcomed Forster to their home in Salisbury Avenue, Styvechale, and how she nursed the writer following his second stroke. She and Bill cared for him until his death in 1970.

  How much May understood about the relationship between the two men wasn't discussed.  But she did tell me of her genuine fondness for the author who was more than 20 years older than Bill and had been in the background throughout her long and happy marriage. 

  In the past May had told Forster's biographers: "To him (Forster) I owe a great deal of gratitude. For his widening of horizons, by meeting his friends (including composer Benjamin Britten), but mostly by his talk."

  Nor did she mind mingling his ashes with her husband's after Bill died five years later in 1975.

 The Buckinghams' former home has a plaque marking its connection to Forster.

Pictured top: Hayley Atwell and Matthew Macfadyen star in the BBC 1 production of Howards End and (above) EM Forster

 

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