This is an extract from E M Forster’s diary for 1900, written when he was an undergraduate at King’s College Cambridge. The entries, corresponding to the first week of January (Forster turned 21 on 1 January), are written in a small Collins notebook with his initials and the crest of King’s College drawn on the cover. Forster wrote many diaries throughout his life although he wasn’t always consistent: his 1900 diary has less than 30 entries, the majority written in the first weeks of the year.
Forster often recorded his trips to London, particularly to museums such as the National Gallery and the Tate, as well as to the theatre. His diary entries portray him as a young man with a strong interest in art. An entry for 3 January records a visit to the New Gallery and to see a play:
Mother & I started together: and parted in wet, she to Douglas’, I to the New Gall: Flemish masters, Rubens, & O. English – a very scrappy collection which I nevertheless enjoyed. More pleased with Mabuse who shows more taste than I expected, and was excellent in portraits. Nice Van Eyck–confounded by visitors with Van Dyck. Had lunch in A.B.C. then went to the theatre. Good seat but nodding plume in front. Sat on my coat and scrunched it a bit.
Forster wrote a ‘Book List’ at the end of his diary. As a student of Classics and History, his reading list includes works by Virgil, Aeschylus and Sophocles, but also modern writers such as Kipling, Ibsen and Stevenson.