Selection of letters written by EM Forster on King’s College Cambridge headed notepaper to Bob Buckingham, £9000 at Chiswick Auctions.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Offered at Chiswick Auctions (25% buyer’s premium) in west London on November 29, the group of more than a dozen autograph letters and over 160 books came for sale from the Buckingham family as a single lot with a guide of £4000-6000.

Forster (1879-1970) had a long-term relationship with Bob Buckingham (1902-75) for 40 years until his death. They had met at a party on the day of the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race in 1930 when Buckingham was unmarried. Buckingham was 28 and Forster 51.

The author of Howards End and Passage To India was best man when Buckingham married his wife May Hockey in 1932, was godfather to their son Robin (who was given Morgan as a middle name) and in 1949 bought the Buckinghams their family home in Coventry.

The recent film My Policeman starring Harry Styles was inspired by the story.

This correspondence included letters from Forster to Buckingham’s son Robin Morgan Buckingham (1933-62) dated between March 1950 and July 1962 and his grandson Clive Morgan Buckingham.

The library of books and pamphlets included many presentation and signed copies – classics such as Tolstoy’s War and Peace (1930) and Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon (1932) that were gifts from Forster to Buckingham and others that had been sent by a range of 20th century writers and poets to Forster himself.

Towards the end of Forster’s life, he lived with the Buckingham family with May acting as a nursemaid, until his death at the age of 91. She later wrote: “I now know that he was in love with Robert and therefore critical and jealous of me and our early years were very stormy. Over the years he changed us both and he and I came to love one another, able to share the joys and sorrows that came.”