In 1978 Scolar Press (London) published a manuscript facsimile of E. M. Forster's "Commonplace Book" with an introduction by his biographer, P. N. Furbank, in an edition of 350 numbered copies. According to the current English "Books in Print" you can still pick up one of these for 150. If you decide to make this investment you may be able to read the 18 pages, "half of them in Latin and some Greek," filled by the original owner of the book, John Jebb, who bought it in 1804.
Jebb, later Bishop of Limerick, left the volume of "some 400 pages of fine quality paper" to his chaplain, Forster's grandfather, the Rev. Mr. Charles Forster. Neither he nor his daughter, Laura, made any use of it and Morgan Forster came upon it when he inherited his aunt's house near the village of Abinger Hammer, Surrey.
Forster's entries begin in 1925. The earlier sections are in essence notes for his "Aspects of the Novel." But variety soon breaks in, and from year-to-year Forster records personal experiences, sentences remembered on waking from dreams, some full dreams, reactions to public events, passages from his reading, his judgment of his own novels, some frank comments on friends and acquaintances and revelations of his own moods. He strikes a valetudinarian note almost from the start: His major works have been written, he is frittering away his time, his reading is haphazard, should he not be doing something more useful than this? For a close reader of his works this volume is a delight. It is not a good introduction for the neophyte.