Even though Stephen Spender delayed publication of his fine first novel, The Temple, for fifty-nine years (until 1988, when he was seventy-nine), you shouldn't expect its gay content to be as important as in E.M. Forster's Maurice (delayed fifty-eight years, until his death). The protagonist doesn't like his same-sex encounters in pre-War Germany, and much of the book's focus is political. In real life, after a series of affairs with men, Spender married twice and began to renounce his gay past, although the photo above, in which he is flanked by Auden and Isherwood on Fire Island, was taken six years into his second marriage. Later, he began to rework the past by rewriting selected lines from his eighteen books of poetry. He changed
Whatever happens, I shall never be alone. I shall always have a boy, a railway fare, or a revolution.
Whatever happens, I shall never be alone. I shall always have an affair, a railway fare, or a revolution.
In a similar vein, he became increasingly sensitive to how other people portrayed him, even when it might not have been him. In 1994, he sued David Leavitt and Viking for the novel While England Sleeps, which he claimed was based on his life and charged that the gay scenes were "pornographic." They settled out of court, and Leavitt altered certain passages for subsequent editions. Spender died the next year. Among his other legacies were twenty books of nonfiction (biography, criticism, travel, memoir), two plays, and two children. His daughter Lizzie married Dame Edna.