Praise for
A Great Unrecorded History

  • Top 10 Book of 2010
    This new look at what Ms. Moffat calls Forster's "strange broken-backed career" casts fascinating light on why, after publishing classic works including "A Room With a View" and "Howards End," this towering novelist kept the last two-thirds of his life under wraps.

    —Janet Maslin, New York Times

  • NY Times Book Review, Editor's Choice

  • "[A] a well-written, intelligent and perceptive biography… Wendy Moffat attempts to explore [Forster's] silence and at the same time to draw a picture of a figure who was sensitive, sensuous and kind, an artist who possessed a keen, plain sort of wisdom and lightness of touch that make him, to this day, an immensely influential novelist, almost a prophet. She uses the sources for our knowledge of Forster’s sexuality, including letters and diaries, without reducing the mystery and sheer individuality of Forster, without making his sexuality explain everything. [W]ith considerable care and a sort of sympathy that Forster himself would have appreciated, [she] makes the case for his life as an exemplary one."

    — Colm Tóibín, Cover Review, New York Times Book Review

  • "An impressive first-time biographer…[Moffat] offers an insightful, revelatory portrait of a man who deeply resented having to hide such an important side of himself…a vigorous storyteller… Moffat casts more light…than has any Forster biographer before her."

    — Janet Maslin, The New York Times

  • "One of the best literary biographies of recent years…The excellence of Moffat's treatment comes not from new sources — though she has some terrific unpublished quotations from letters and diaries – but from the intelligence and tact with which she moves between the life and the work…Moffat is wholly persuasive in her argument that the fact of Forster's homosexuality is indeed the key to his art. …In a manner worthy of her subject, she writes with great style and control."

    — Jonathan Bate, Sunday Telegraph

  • "An excellent biography… [Moffat] demonstrates that [Forster's] was a fruitful and rewarding existence. This is an exemplary biography, its elegance and humour successfully concealing its erudition. It is the story of a pilgrimage towards humanity."

    — Peter Ackroyd, Times [London]

  • One of the best biographies I have read for a long time was Wendy Moffat's study of E.M. Forster, A New Life (Bloomsbury, £25), in which she reconsiders the man and his writing in the light of newly available material about his sexuality. Neither reductionist nor prurient, her book is revelatory in the right way, illuminating both about his fiction and the two enduring British hang-ups, sex and class.

    —Ann Chisholm, Spectator Book of the Year, 2010

  • This ambitious biography is full of deft character sketches, and gives a convincing account of Forster's inner struggles. A Best Book of 2010.

    —Country Life

  • E M Forster: a New Life (Bloomsbury, £25) is Wendy Moffat's thoughtful, generous and scrupulously researched account of a magnificent writer who once wrote, heartbreakingly, that "I know I am not a real artist." Focusing on Forster's cautious, fearful, slow escape from celibacy into a passionate sexual life, Moffat gives a convincing account of how the novelist's erotic experiences fed into his work. Her accounts of Forster's life in Alexandria and India are really wonderful: a rare blend of humour, lyricism and pathos.

    —Miranda Seymour, Telegraph Book of the Year, 2010

  • "[A] fascinating examination of [Forster's] inner life, drawing on…honest, clear-sighted and sometimes heart-breaking journals…. [Moffat's] approach makes all the necessary connections between his novels and his inner life…Wendy Moffat has given us an illuminating account of an honest, touchingly self-aware man, whose writings continue to engage and influence and connect.

    — Éibhear Walshe Irish Times

  • "Superbly illuminating…Forster gave his characters the happy ending he did not feel he could enjoy himself, even after he had retired to a set of rooms in King’s College Cambridge. Not there, and not yet. In its gruff appeal for tolerance and mutual respect, the novel now appears painfully old-fashioned. The world has moved on. Yet, as Moffat shows with great tact and generosity, it largely moved in a direction mapped out by men like Forster, whose private work towards reforming the law on homosexuality and, even more significantly, public attitudes, make him one of gay liberation's unsung heroes. The final photograph of Forster shows a tiny figure shuffling across King's quad and about to move out of shot. It is a perfect image of the place he has come to occupy in history. Refocused through this biography, it suddenly looks different. He seems to be walking towards the future where he always belonged."

    — Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Telegraph

  • "Moffat pays diligent attention… [She] amplifies Forster's story with his words, scavenged from previously unavailable diaries. Moffat isn't gossipy or reductive — the Forster who emerges from her work is a more human and satisfying figure than we've known. She portrays a limited man in full whose compromises between sense and sensuality parallel those of his most complex fictional characters."

    — Eric Banks, Time

  • "So interesting that it doesn’t matter if you've not read the novels…Moffat covers all this in a way that makes the book hard to put down. She sets out to tell the story Forster could not…and has written the engrossing tale like a novelist."

    — Andrew Holleran, The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide

  • "This eminently readable, beautifully and often lyrically written biography by Wendy Moffat…is gripping, mesmerizing, heartfelt and kind. Moffat has written a splendid, thoughtful, riveting biography of a man who was a revolutionary in his work, descended into his own sexual depths with aplomb, and left all of us the richer for it. 'Only connect,' he wrote. And what can be more humane than that?"

    — Sam Coale, Providence Journal

  • "[N]o biography can be definitive. Even so, certain biographies, like Boswell's Johnson, become classics because of their style and sensitivity to their subjects. Wendy Moffat's "Great Unrecorded History" may well be succeeded by other lives of Forster, yet in a vital sense never be superseded. She writes with engrossing care and elegance about Forster's evolving sexuality…"

    — Carl Rollyson, Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • "Wendy Moffat…digs to the root of Forster's private self…Persuasive…The man who emerges from Ms. Moffat's biography is ineffably human."

    The Economist

  • "This sympathetic, often touching biography will connect with literature lovers, gay and straight."

    — Jocelyn McClurg, USA Today

  • "Early in the year I made a list of the best books I'd read in the first decade of this century. If I live long enough to make a list of this second decade I know that A Great Unrecorded History will be on the list."

    — George Fitzgerald, Literary Crushes/ Grave Matters Blog

  • "Wendy Moffat's examination of E. M. Forster identifies his homosexuality as the essence of his creative life. Using unpublished writings, she charts his gradual awakening to the moral, intellectual, and emotional significance of his homoerotic imagination. Her book is an astute and original portrait of this major novelist."

    — Michael Holroyd, author of A Strange Eventful History

  • "Biographers and critics claim to see sexuality as a side issue in Forster's work, but Wendy Moffat…has set forth a sharply different view. She argues persuasively that it’s essential to understanding his career… Direct, precise, and faithful to [Forster's] own feelings…An excellent sketch of the changing status of homosexuals in [Forster's] time."

    — Robert Fulford, National Post [Ontario]

  • "Moffat…shapes a life strikingly unlike those published to date. [She] argues winningly for the contentment and vigour of Forster's last decades. This is a rich, well-honed biography, filled with vivid character sketches, and convincing concerning Forster's inner struggle."

    — Richard Canning, The Independent

  • "Wendy Moffat's biography of E. M. Forster is splendid — beautifully researched and written, imaginatively structured and deeply revealing. We finally have a life of Forster that foregrounds his homosexuality and skillfully traces its impact on his life and art. We've had a long wait for a fully honest book on Forster — but at last we have it."

    — Martin Duberman, author of Stonewall and Paul Robeson

  • "A buoyant, expressive biography…Exhaustively researched and engagingly written…An emphatic, highly informative celebration of the legacy of a profoundly decent but decidedly imperfect man who considered himself the 'outsidest of outsiders.'"

    Kirkus Review (Starred Review)

  • "A Great Unrecorded History explores the intimate life of E. M. Forster with sensitivity and scholarship. Wendy Moffat writes with profound insight…she also gives an illuminating picture of gay sexual culture in the first half of the twentieth century. This biography is at once an engrossing read and a book to cherish and go back to. Essential for understanding…Forster and the times in which he lived."

    — Sheila Rowbotham, author of Edward Carpenter

  • "[Moffat] masterfully unlocks the rich history of the author’s life…Using letters, journal entries, and interpretations of his fictional works, Moffat carefully unfolds Forster's emotional and intellectual development…A compelling piece of scholarship that not only provides an invaluable exploration of Forster's innermost thoughts, but an illustration of the culture that so deeply shaped his identity."

    — Melissa Arjona, The Feminist Review

  • "At once powerful and sensitive…Irrestistibly compelling and responsible. Forster may have been regarded as mousy, but this treatment of his life is undeniably robust. In fact, it shines with the beauty its subject was made sad he did not possess."

    — Brad Hooper, Booklist (Starred Review)

  • Insightful and expansive…Amusing…Moffat, in her prologue, writes, "About a century ago, Forster dedicated 'Maurice' to 'a happier year.' Perhaps that time is now." While you wait, her biography will prove rewarding reading. Forster fans might afterward consider revisiting his novels. Moffat is likely to win Forster new fans among her other readers.

    — Michael Ehrhardt, Gay City News

  • "Admirably gives a sense of Forster's presence…Vivid…richly detailed…Briskly and engagingly written…the best short biography of Forster in print…"

    — Michael Hall, Country Life

  • "A sympathetic and lucid biography."

    ExpressMilwaukee.com

  • "For readers who want a coherent, psychologically penetrating, well-written account of the life, with a minimum of critical analysis, this new biography is the one that I now recommend."

    — Francis King, The Spectator

  • Absorbing…Moffat's spirited book places Forster in a context he would have approved of…A balanced, touching and enlightening portrait of a great writer and curiously lovable man.

    — Peter Parker, Sunday Times

  • "Meticulous…Estimable…Even allowing for P.N. Furbank's magisterial two-volume biography of 1978, Moffat's is the first one to see the sex with an inviting degree of clarity. …A biography that knows how to dramatize the turmoil [Forster] felt….Wendy Moffat is a lively and suggestive companion, alert…to what makes a writer's history and mentality."

    — Andrew O’Hagan, New York Review of Books

  • "Moffat is the thinking homo's newest diva. You won't want to miss reading this revelatory work."

    — Lew Maurer, Central Voice Magazine

  • "A path-breaking literary biography, the best in years, that is a joy to read and re-read…. Moffat's approach to her subject is creative. A dedicated researcher, she is transparently truthful without being judgemental, never glossing over Forster's failings or sparing us the details of his liaison… One of Moffat's virtues as a biographer that she moves effortlessly from one to the other and brings out their inter-connectedness with witty asides, making symbolic use of the smallest details."

    — ZERIN ANKLESARIA, The Hindu

  • One of the best biographies I have read for a long time was Wendy Moffat's study of E.M. Forster, A New Life (Bloomsbury, £25), in which she reconsiders the man and his writing in the light of newly available material about his sexuality. Neither reductionist nor prurient, her book is revelatory in the right way, illuminating both about his fiction and the two enduring British hang-ups, sex and class.

    — Anne Chisholm, The Spectator

  • E M Forster: a New Life is Wendy Moffat's thoughtful, generous and scrupulously researched account of a magnificent writer who once wrote, heartbreakingly, that "I know I am not a real artist." Focusing on Forster's cautious, fearful, slow escape from celibacy into a passionate sexual life, Moffat gives a convincing account of how the novelist's erotic experiences fed into his work. Her accounts of Forster's life in Alexandria and India are really wonderful: a rare blend of humour, lyricism and pathos.

    — Miranda Seymour, Telegraph Book of the Year