Edward Morgan Forster OM CH (1 January 1879 – 7 June 1970) was an English novelist, short story writer, essayist and librettist. Many of his novels examined class difference and hypocrisy, including A Room with a View (1908), Howards End (1910) and A Passage to India (1924). The last brought him his greatest success. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 16 different years.
E. M. Forster
E. M. Forster, by Dora Carrington
|Born||Edward Morgan Forster|
1 January 1879
Marylebone, Middlesex, England
|Died||7 June 1970 (aged 91)|
Coventry, Warwickshire, England
|Occupation||Writer (novels, short stories, essays)|
|Alma mater||King's College, Cambridge|
|Genre||Realism, symbolism, modernism|
|Subject||Class division, gender, homosexuality|
Forster was born into an Anglo-Irish and Welsh family at 6 Melcombe Place, Dorset Square, London NW1, in a building that no longer exists. He was the only child of Alice Clara "Lily" (née Whichelo) and Edward Morgan Llewellyn Forster, an architect. His name was officially registered as Henry Morgan Forster, but at his baptism he was accidentally named Edward Morgan Forster. To distinguish him from his father, he was always called Morgan. His father died of tuberculosis on 30 October 1880, before Morgan's second birthday. In 1883, Forster and his mother moved to Rooks Nest, near Stevenage, Hertfordshire. This house served as a model for Howards End, as he had fond memories of his childhood there. Among Forster's ancestors were members of the Clapham Sect, a social reform group within the Church of England.
Forster inherited £8,000 in trust (the equivalent of about £990,000 in 2017) from his paternal great-aunt Marianne Thornton (daughter of the abolitionist Henry Thornton), who died on 5 November 1887. The money was enough to live on and enabled him to become a writer. He attended as a day boy at Tonbridge School in Kent, where the school theatre has been named in his honour.
At King's College, Cambridge, between 1897 and 1901, he became a member of a discussion society known as the Apostles (formally named the Cambridge Conversazione Society). They met in secret, and discussed their work on philosophical and moral questions. Many of its members went on to constitute what came to be known as the Bloomsbury Group, of which Forster was a peripheral member in the 1910s and 1920s. There is a famous recreation of Forster's Cambridge at the beginning of The Longest Journey. The Schlegel sisters of Howards End are based to some degree on Vanessa and Virginia Stephen.
After leaving university, he travelled in continental Europe with his mother. They moved to Weybridge, Surrey, where he wrote all six of his novels. In 1914, he visited Egypt, Germany and India with the classicist Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, by which time he had written all but one of his novels. As a conscientious objector in the First World War, Forster served as a Chief Searcher (for missing servicemen) for the British Red Cross in Alexandria, Egypt.
Forster spent a second spell in India in the early 1920s as the private secretary to Tukojirao III, the Maharajah of Dewas. The Hill of Devi is his non-fictional account of this period. After returning to London from India, he completed the last novel of his to be published during his lifetime, A Passage to India (1924), for which he won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. He also edited Eliza Fay's (1756–1816) letters from India, in an edition first published in 1925.
In the 1930s and 1940s Forster became a notable broadcaster on BBC Radio and a public figure associated with the Union of Ethical Societies. In addition to his broadcasting, he advocated individual liberty and penal reform and opposed censorship by writing articles, sitting on committees and signing letters. His weekly book review during the war was commissioned by George Orwell, who was the talks producer at the India Section of the BBC from 1941 to 1943. He was awarded a Benson Medal in 1937.
Forster was homosexual (open to his close friends, but not to the public) and a lifelong bachelor. He developed a long-term relationship with Bob Buckingham (1904–1975), a married policeman. Forster included Buckingham and his wife May in his circle, which included J. R. Ackerley, a writer and literary editor of The Listener, the psychologist W. J. H. Sprott, and for a time, the composer Benjamin Britten. Other writers with whom Forster associated included Christopher Isherwood, the poet Siegfried Sassoon, and the Belfast-based novelist Forrest Reid.
From 1925 until his mother's death at age 90 in March 1945, Forster lived with her at the house West Hackhurst in the village of Abinger Hammer, Surrey, finally leaving in September 1946. His London base was 26 Brunswick Square from 1930 to 1939, after which he rented 9 Arlington Park Mansions in Chiswick until at least 1961. After a fall in April 1961, he spent his final years in Cambridge at King's College.
Forster was elected an honorary fellow of King's College, Cambridge, in January 1946, and lived for the most part in the college, doing relatively little. In April 1947 he arrived in America to begin a three-month nationwide tour of public readings and sightseeing, returning to the East Coast in June. He declined a knighthood in 1949 and was made a Companion of Honour in 1953. At age 82, he wrote his last short story, Little Imber, a science fiction tale. According to his friend Richard Marquand, Forster was highly critical of American foreign policy in his latter years. This was one of the reasons why he consistently refused offers to adapt his novels for the screen, because Forster felt that such productions would inevitably involve American financing.
At 85 he went on a pilgrimage to the Wiltshire countryside that had inspired his favourite novel The Longest Journey, escorted by William Golding. In 1969 he was made a member of the Order of Merit. Forster died of a stroke on 7 June 1970 at the age of 91, at the Buckinghams' home in Coventry. His ashes, mingled with those of Buckingham, were later scattered in the rose garden of Coventry's crematorium, near Warwick University.
Forster had five novels published in his lifetime. Although Maurice was published shortly after his death, it had been written nearly sixty years earlier. He never finished a seventh novel, Arctic Summer.
His first novel, Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905), is the story of Lilia, a young English widow who falls in love with an Italian, and of the efforts of her bourgeois relatives to get her back from Monteriano (based on San Gimignano). Philip Herriton's mission to retrieve her from Italy has features in common with that of Lambert Strether in Henry James's The Ambassadors. Forster discussed that work ironically and somewhat disapprovingly in his book Aspects of the Novel (1927). Where Angels Fear to Tread was adapted as a 1991 film directed by Charles Sturridge.
Next, Forster published The Longest Journey (1907), an inverted Bildungsroman following the lame Rickie Elliott from Cambridge to a career as a struggling writer and then to a post as a schoolmaster, married to the unappealing Agnes Pembroke. In a series of scenes on the hills of Wiltshire, which introduce Rickie's wild half-brother Stephen Wonham, Forster attempts a kind of sublime related to those of Thomas Hardy and D. H. Lawrence.
Forster's third novel, A Room with a View (1908), is his lightest and most optimistic. It was started as early as 1901, before any of his others; its earliest versions are entitled "Lucy". The book explores the young Lucy Honeychurch's trip to Italy with her cousin, and the choice she must make between the free-thinking George Emerson and the repressed aesthete Cecil Vyse. George's father Mr Emerson quotes thinkers who influenced Forster, including Samuel Butler. The book was adapted as a film of the same name in 1985 by the Merchant Ivory team.
Where Angels Fear to Tread and A Room with a View can be seen collectively as Forster's Italian novels. Both include references to the famous Baedeker guidebooks and concern narrow-minded middle-class English tourists abroad. The books share many themes with his short stories collected in The Celestial Omnibus and The Eternal Moment.
Howards End (1910) is an ambitious "condition-of-England" novel concerned with different groups within the Edwardian middle classes, represented by the Schlegels (bohemian intellectuals), the Wilcoxes (thoughtless plutocrats) and the Basts (struggling lower-middle-class aspirants). Critics have observed that numerous characters in Forster's novels die suddenly. This is true of Where Angels Fear to Tread, Howards End and, most particularly, The Longest Journey. Howards End was adapted as a film in 1991 by the Merchant-Ivory team and as a miniseries in 2017. An opera libretto Howards End, America was created in 2016 by Claudia Stevens.
Forster achieved his greatest success with A Passage to India (1924). The novel takes as its subject the relationship between East and West, seen through the lens of India in the later days of the British Raj. Forster connects personal relationships with the politics of colonialism through the story of the Englishwoman Adela Quested, the Indian Dr. Aziz, and the question of what did or did not happen between them in the Marabar Caves. Forster makes special mention of the author Ahmed Ali and his Twilight in Delhi in his Preface to its Everyman's Library Edition. A Passage to India was adapted as a play in 1960, directed by Frank Hauser, and as a film in 1984, directed by David Lean.
Maurice (1971) was published posthumously. It is a homosexual love story which also returns to matters familiar from Forster's first three novels, such as the suburbs of London in the English home counties, the experience of attending Cambridge, and the wild landscape of Wiltshire. The novel was controversial, given that Forster's homosexuality had not been previously known or widely acknowledged. Today's critics continue to argue over the extent to which Forster's sexuality and personal activities influenced his writing. Maurice was adapted as a film in 1987 by the Merchant-Ivory team.
Early in his writing career, Forster attempted a historical novel about the Byzantine scholar Gemistus Pletho and the Italian condottiero Sigismondo de Malatesta, but was not satisfied with the result and never published it, though he kept the manuscript and later showed it to Naomi Mitchison.
Forster's first novel, Where Angels Fear to Tread, was described by reviewers as "astonishing" and "brilliantly original". The Manchester Guardian (forerunner of The Guardian) noted "a persistent vein of cynicism which is apt to repel," though "the cynicism is not deep-seated." The novel is labelled "a sordid comedy culminating, unexpectedly and with a real dramatic force, in a grotesque tragedy." Lionel Trilling remarked on this first novel as "a whole and mature work dominated by a fresh and commanding intelligence".
Subsequent books were similarly received on publication. The Manchester Guardian commented on Howards End, describing it as "a novel of high quality written with what appears to be a feminine brilliance of perception... witty and penetrating." An essay by David Cecil in Poets and Storytellers (1949) describes Forster as "pulsing with intelligence and sensibility", but primarily concerned with an original moral vision: "He tells a story as well as anyone who ever lived".
US interest in Forster and appreciation for him were spurred by Lionel Trilling's E. M. Forster: A Study, which called him "the only living novelist who can be read again and again and who, after each reading, gives me what few writers can give us after our first days of novel-reading, the sensation of having learned something." (Trilling 1943)
Criticism of his works has included comment on unlikely pairings of characters who marry or get engaged, and the lack of realistic depiction of sexual attraction.
Forster was President of the Cambridge Humanists from 1959 until his death and a member of the Advisory Council of the British Humanist Association from 1963 until his death. His views as a humanist are at the heart of his work, which often depicts the pursuit of personal connections in spite of the restrictions of contemporary society. His humanist attitude is expressed in the non-fictional essay What I Believe (reprinted with two other humanist essays – and an introduction and notes by Nicolas Walter – as What I Believe, and other essays by the secular humanist publishers G. W. Foote & Co. in 1999). When Forster's cousin, Philip Whichelo, donated a portrait of Forster to the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GLHA), Jim Herrick, the founder, quoted Forster's words: "The humanist has four leading characteristics – curiosity, a free mind, belief in good taste, and belief in the human race."
Forster's two best-known works, A Passage to India and Howards End, explore the irreconcilability of class differences. A Room with a View also shows how questions of propriety and class can make human connection difficult. The novel is his most widely read and accessible work, remaining popular long after its original publication. His posthumous novel Maurice explores the possibility of class reconciliation as one facet of a homosexual relationship.
Sexuality is another key theme in Forster's works. Some critics have argued that a general shift from heterosexual to homosexual love can be observed through the course of his writing career. The foreword to Maurice describes his struggle with his homosexuality, while he explored similar issues in several volumes of short stories. Forster's explicitly homosexual writings, the novel Maurice and the short story collection The Life to Come, were published shortly after his death.
Forster is noted for his use of symbolism as a technique in his novels, and he has been criticised (as by his friend Roger Fry) for his attachment to mysticism. One example of his symbolism is the wych elm tree in Howards End. The characters of Mrs Wilcox in that novel and Mrs Moore in A Passage to India have a mystical link with the past, and a striking ability to connect with people from beyond their own circles.
Forster was gay, which prompted themes in his works, especially the novel Maurice. Though conscious of his repressed desires, he was 27 before he yielded to them physically. In 1906 he fell in love with Syed Ross Masood, a 17-year-old future Oxford student he tutored in Latin. The Indian had more of a romantic, poetic view of friendship, confusing Forster with constant avowals of his love.
Plays and pageants
Collections of essays and broadcasts
|Non-profit organisation positions|
| International President of PEN International
A Passage to India (1924) is a novel by English author E. M. Forster set against the backdrop of the British Raj and the Indian independence movement in the 1920s. It was selected as one of the 100 great works of 20th century English literature by the Modern Library and won the 1924 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. Time magazine included the novel in its "All Time 100 Novels" list. The novel is based on Forster's experiences in India, deriving the title from Walt Whitman's 1870 poem "Passage to India" in Leaves of Grass.The story revolves around four characters: Dr. Aziz, his British friend Mr. Cyril Fielding, Mrs. Moore, and Miss Adela Quested. During a trip to the fictitious Marabar Caves (modeled on the Barabar Caves of Bihar), Adela thinks she finds herself alone with Dr. Aziz in one of the caves (when in fact he is in an entirely different cave), and subsequently panics and flees; it is assumed that Dr. Aziz has attempted to assault her. Aziz's trial, and its run-up and aftermath, bring to a boil the common racial tensions and prejudices between Indians and the British who rule India.A Passage to India (film)
A Passage to India is a 1984 British epic historical drama film written, directed and edited by David Lean. The screenplay is based on the play of the same name by Santha Rama Rau, which was based on the 1924 novel of the same name by E.M. Forster.
Set in the 1920s during the period of the British Raj, the film tells the story of the interactions of several characters in the fictional city of Chandrapore, namely Dr. Aziz, Mrs Moore, Adela Quested, and Richard Fielding. When newcomer to India Adela accuses Aziz of an attempted rape within the famed Marabar Caves, the city is split between the British elite and the native underclass as the budding friendship between Aziz and Fielding is tested. The film explores themes of racism, imperialism, religion, and the nature of relationships both friendly and marital.
This was the final film of Lean's prestigious career, and the first feature-film he had directed in fourteen years, since Ryan's Daughter in 1970. Receiving universal critical acclaim upon its release with many praising it as Lean's finest since Lawrence of Arabia, A Passage to India received eleven nominations at the Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director for Lean, and Best Actress for Judy Davis for her portrayal as Adela Quested. Peggy Ashcroft won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal as Mrs Moore, making her, at 77, the oldest actress to win the award, and Maurice Jarre won his third Academy Award for Best Original Score.Billy Budd (opera)
Billy Budd, Op. 50, is an opera by Benjamin Britten to a libretto by the English novelist E. M. Forster and Eric Crozier, based on the short novel Billy Budd by Herman Melville. Originally in four acts, it was first performed at the Royal Opera House, London, on 1 December 1951; it was later revised as a two-act opera with a prologue and an epilogue.Bloomsbury Group
The Bloomsbury Group—or Bloomsbury Set—was a group of associated English writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists in the first half of the 20th century, including Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, E. M. Forster and Lytton Strachey. This loose collective of friends and relatives was closely associated with Cambridge University for the men and King's College London for the women, and they lived, worked or studied together near Bloomsbury, London. According to Ian Ousby, "although its members denied being a group in any formal sense, they were united by an abiding belief in the importance of the arts." Their works and outlook deeply influenced literature, aesthetics, criticism, and economics as well as modern attitudes towards feminism, pacifism, and sexuality.E. M. Forster Award
The E. M. Forster Award is a $20,000 award given annually to an Irish or British writer to fund a period of travel in the United States. The award, named after the English novelist E. M. Forster, is administered by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Academy members nominate authors and winners are selected by a rotating committee.Howards End
Howards End is a novel by E. M. Forster, first published in 1910, about social conventions, codes of conduct and relationships in turn-of-the-century England. Howards End is considered by some to be Forster's masterpiece. The book was conceived in June 1908 and worked on throughout the following year; it was completed in July 1910. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Howards End 38th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. Zadie Smith's On Beauty is a modern retelling of the novel, as well as an homage to it.Howards End (film)
Howards End is a 1992 British romantic drama film based upon the novel of the same name by E. M. Forster (published in 1910), a story of class relations in turn-of-the-20th-century Britain. The film — produced by Merchant Ivory Productions as their third adaptation of a Forster novel (following A Room with a View in 1985 and Maurice in 1987) — was the first film to be released by Sony Pictures Classics. The screenplay was written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, directed by James Ivory, and produced by Ismail Merchant.
Howards End was entered as an official selection for Cannes International Film Festival and won the 45th Anniversary Award. In 1993, the film received nine Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. The film won three awards, including for Best Art Direction (Art Direction: Luciana Arrighi; Set Decoration: Ian Whittaker). Ruth Prawer Jhabvala earned her second Academy Award for Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published, while Emma Thompson won the 1992 Academy Award for Best Actress.Howards End (miniseries)
Howards End is a British-American television miniseries based on the novel of the same name by E. M. Forster. The series was adapted by Kenneth Lonergan, directed by Hettie MacDonald, and stars Hayley Atwell. The four-part series is a co-production between British network BBC One and American network Starz. It premiered on 12 November 2017 in the United Kingdom and 8 April 2018 in the United States.Maurice (novel)
Maurice is a novel by E. M. Forster. A tale of homosexual love in early 20th-century England, it follows Maurice Hall from his schooldays through university and beyond. It was written in 1913–1914, and revised in 1932 and 1959–1960. Forster was close friends with the poet Edward Carpenter, and upon visiting his Derbyshire home in 1912, was motivated to write Maurice. The relationship between Carpenter and his partner, George Merrill, was the inspiration for that of Maurice and Alec Scudder.Although Forster showed the novel to a select few of his friends (among them Christopher Isherwood), it was published only posthumously, in 1971. Forster did not seek to publish it during his lifetime, believing it to have been unpublishable during that period due to public and legal attitudes to same-sex love. A note found on the manuscript read: "Publishable, but worth it?". Forster was particularly keen that his novel should have a happy ending, but knew that this would make the book too controversial.The novel has been adapted once for film and for the stage.Sidgwick
Sidgwick may refer to:
Mary Sidgwick Benson (1841–1918), English hostess and wife of Edward Benson, the Archbishop of Canterbury
Eleanor Mildred Sidgwick (1845–1936), English activist for higher education of women and wife of Henry Sidgwick
Henry Sidgwick (1838–1900), English philosopher
Nevil Sidgwick (1873–1952), English chemist
Robert Sidgwick (1851–1934), English cricketerThe Machine Stops
"The Machine Stops" is a science fiction short story (12,300 words) by E. M. Forster. After initial publication in The Oxford and Cambridge Review (November 1909), the story was republished in Forster's The Eternal Moment and Other Stories in 1928. After being voted one of the best novellas up to 1965, it was included that same year in the populist anthology Modern Short Stories. In 1973 it was also included in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two.
The story, set in a world where humanity lives underground and relies on a giant machine to provide its needs, predicted technologies such as instant messaging and the Internet.