E.M. Forster

(1879 – 1970)

E.M. ForsterBiographical Sketch

Edward Morgan Forster OM, CH (London, England, January 1,1879 – Coventry, Warwickshire, England, June 7, 1970) was an English novelist, short story writer, essayist and librettist. He is known best for his ironic and well-plotted novels examining class difference and hypocrisy in early 20th-century British society. Forster’s humanistic impulse toward understanding and sympathy may be summed up in the epigraph to his 1910 novel Howards End: “Only connect … “. His 1908 novel, A Room with a View, is his most optimistic work, while A Passage to India (1924) brought him his greatest success.

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. 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 posthumously published novel Maurice explores the possibility of class reconciliation as one facet of a homosexual relationship.

Read more about E.M. Forster on Wikipedia.

 

Major Awards and Honors

Order of the British Empire
  • 1949: Knighthood – refused to accept.
James Black Tait Memorial Prize (Scotland)
  • 1924: Fiction Award – “A Passage to India”

 

Bibliography

Novels
  • Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905)
  • The Longest Journey (1907)
  • A Room with a View (1908)
  • Howards End (1910)
  • Maurice (1914)
  • A Passage to India (1924)
  • Arctic Summer (1980)
Short Stories
  • The Celestial Omnibus and Other Stories (1911)
  • The Story of the Siren (1920)
  • The Eternal Moment and Other Stories (1928)
  • The Collected Tales of E. M. Forster (1947)
    A/K/A: Selected Stories
  • The Life to Come and Other Short Stories (1972)
Plays and Librettos
  • England’s Pleasant Land (1940)
  • Billy Budd (1951)
    – Libretto, with Eric Crozier.
Memoirs and Correspondence
  • Introduction and notes: Original Letters from India, by Mrs Eliza Fay (1925)
  • The Hill of Devi (1953)
  • Marianne Thornton (1956)
  • Commonplace Book (1987)
  • Only Connect: Letters to Indian Friends (1982)
  • Selected letters of E.M. Forster
Nonfiction
  • Alexandria (1922)
  • Pharaos and Pharillon (1923)
  • Anonymity, an Enquir (1925)
  • Aspects of the Novel (1927)
  • Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson (1934)
  • Abinger Harvest (1936)
  • What I Believe (1939)
  • Reading as Usual (1939)
  • Nordic Twilight (1940)
  • Development of English Prose between 1918 and 1939 (1945)
  • Two Cheers for Democracy (1951)
  • The Uncollected Egyptian Essays (1988)
Online editions of E.M. Forster’s works:

 

A Selection of Quotes

Howards End

“Was Mrs. Wilcox one of the unsatisfactory people – there are many of them – who dangle intimacy and then withdraw it? They evoke our interests and affections, and keep the life of the spirit dawdling around them. Then they withdraw. When physical passion is involved, there is a definite name for such behaviour – flirting – and if carried far enough, it is punishable by law. But no law – not public opinion, even – punishes those who coquette with friendship, though the dull ache that they inflict, the sense of misdirected effort and exhaustion, may be as intolerable. Was she one of these?”

A Passage to India

“The issues Miss Quested had raised were so much more important than she was herself that people inevitably forgot her.”

“Life never gives us what we want at the moment that we consider appropriate.”

Find more quotes by E.M. Forster on Wikiquote and Goodreads.

 

Links

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