EM Forster

Edward Morgan Forster was born in London in 1879. His father died in 1880, but he and his mother were left affluent. He spent his early childhood near Stevenage in Hertfordshire, before the family moved to Kent so he could attend Tonbridge School. He was an academic success, and went up to King's College, Cambridge, in 1897. He was awarded a 2nd class degree in Classics, and stayed on for a 4th year to get another 2nd in History. During his time at Cambridge he began to write fiction. He also to question his inherited conventional Christian morality; his later novels are influenced by the emphasis on the personal and the human to which this questioning led.

After leaving Cambridge, he travelled in Europe with his mother. Their stay at a Florence pensione helped motivate setting part of A Room with a View in a similar establishment. Amid tutoring and lecturing, he turned properly to writing when they returned. Where Angels Fear to Tread was published in 1905. Four more novels appeared in his lifetime: The Longest Journey (1907), A Room with a View (1908), Howards End (1910), and A Passage to India (1924). Maurice was written in 1910-1913 but not published until 1971, after his death. The novels for which he is most famous, then, were mostly written within a decade of one another; A Passage to India followed a period of travel and work abroad - more than once to India itself, and also to Alexandria during the First World War.

He lived mostly with his mother in Surrey from 1925 until her death in 1945. In 1930, after a long process of coming to terms with his homosexuality, he started the most significant and long-lasting relationship of his life with a young policeman, Bob Buckingham. He began spending time each year at King's, which had given him a fellowship. In 1945 he moved to Cambridge for good, and he lived there until his death in 1970. He produced numerous writings, including short stories, literary criticism - especially Aspects of the Novel (1927) - and essays on many topics. However, his place in 20th century literature rests on his novels, which gained a wider readership as a result of film versions in the 1980s and 1990s.

In the menu on the left you'll find three Forster resources. Two are articles taking very different approaches to two of his novels: one addresses the politics of Howards End, the other the romantic comedy of Room with a View. We also have an unusual virtual diary, where changing extracts from his letters reveal what Forster was thinking about at different times of the year. You can subscribe to receive these by e-mail.

Comments are closed.