22nd November

In November 1898 he was thinking about pomp and ceremony. He wrote home from Cambridge to his mother about events at the University’s Senate House. Lord Kitchener, commander-in-chief of the army in Egypt, was in town to receive an honorary degree. The crowd was so avid that a large section of fence collapsed: 'It is a very great miracle that no one was killed.’ The celebrations – including a vast bonfire in the Market square – were huge. Forster couldn’t take it all seriously, and he noted that Kitchener’s combination of academic robes and military uniform 'looked very ridiculous’. (Source: Selected Letters of E.M. Forster, ed. Mary Lago and P.N. Furbank (London: Collins, 1983-1985), letter of 24 November 1898)

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