Edward Morgan Forster was born in London on January 1, 1879. He was the great-grandson of Henry Thornton, a prominent member of the Evangelical Clapham Sect and a member of parliament. His father, an architect, died early, and he was brought up by his mother and his great-aunt, Marianne Thornton (whose biography he published in 1956). He received his early education at Tonbridge School, but he did not like the public school atmosphere. His bitter criticism of the English public school system appears in his portrayal of Sawston School in his first two novels, Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905) and The Longest Journey (1907). From Tonbridge, Forster went on to the University of Cambridge—thanks to the rich...
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Edward Morgan Forster lived a long but rather uneventful life. Born on New Year’s Day, 1879, he was reared by his possessive mother and worshipful great-aunt (whose biography he later wrote) after the death of his father from tuberculosis before Forster turned two. Happy, protected, and dominated by women in his early years, he suffered painfully the transition to the masculine, athletically oriented Tonbridge School—later the model for Sawston School in The Longest Journey. After a more congenial four years, 1897 to 1901, at King’s College, Cambridge, he took a second-class degree. In the next few years, he wrote seriously, traveled in Italy and Greece, tutored the children of a German countess, and indulged in walking tours of his native land.
His first novel, Where Angels Fear to Tread, much of which is set in Italy, received favorable reviews in 1905, and Forster produced three more novels in the next five years, of which A Room with a View drew also on his Italian experience, while The Longest Journey and Howards End both reflect his keen delight in the English countryside. Thereafter, having attained a considerable reputation as a novelist, he slowed his pace. He began, but could not finish, a novel called Arctic Summer; completed a novel about homosexuality, his own orientation, which he knew to be unpublishable; and brought out a volume of short stories. Among his many friends he numbered Virginia Woolf as well as others of the Bloomsbury group, of which, however, he was never more than a fringe member. World War I found him in Egypt as a Red Cross worker. Although he disliked Egypt, his life there led to the writing of two nonfiction books.
Forster had first visited India in 1912, but his second sojourn there as personal secretary to the maharaja of Dewas gave him the opportunity to observe the political and social life closely enough to inspire him to write another novel. A Passage to India, which appeared in 1924, increased his fame and led to an invitation to deliver the Clark Lectures at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1927; the lectures were published later that year as Aspects of the Novel. Although he continued to write for several more decades, he published no more novels. Forster received a number of honors, culminating in the Order of Merit, presented to him on his ninetieth birthday. He died in June of 1970.
Edward Morgan Forster (FOR-stur) was born in London, England, on January 1, 1879, the only son of Edward Morgan Llewellyn Forster, a descendant of prominent members of the Clapham Sect, an evangelical group of social activists, and Alice Clara (Lily) Whichelo Forster. His father, an architect who had studied with Sir Arthur Blomfield (Thomas Hardy’s mentor), died unexpectedly in 1880. That left the one-year-old Edward Forster in the care of his mother, his maternal grandmother, Louisa Whichelo, and his paternal great-aunt and godmother, Marianne Thornton, who financed his education and became his benefactress. In 1893, Forster and his mother moved to Tonbridge and he attended Tonbridge School, where he was very unhappy, from 1893...
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E. M. Forster writes: “As a rule, if a writer has a romantic temperament, he will find relationships beautiful.” This statement encapsulates the optimistic truths that Forster asserts in his literature about the nature of humanity. Considered by some critics to be one of the greatest moralists of his time, Forster directs his attention to character flaws that cause temporary disharmony in personal relationships.
In “E. M. Forster as Victorian and Modern: Howards End and A Passage to India,” Malcolm Bradbury contends that Forster demands a personal connection between inner and outer worlds and demands that both society and humankind be whole. This explains the fact that Forster’s works focus on individual redemptions and personal relationships, while, at the same time, they are very social novels.
Among twentieth century novelists, Edward Morgan Forster (FOR-stur) ranks just below D. H. Lawrence, James Joyce, and William Faulkner. He was the only surviving child of Edward Morgan Llewellyn Forster, an architect, and Alice Clara Whichelow, who was called Lily. After Forster’s father died in October, 1880, Lily reared the boy with the assistance of various doting female relatives, including her husband’s elderly aunt, Marianne Thornton, who generously funded the boy’s education at Tonbridge School and King’s College, Cambridge, and provided him the means to travel and write at leisure upon his graduation in 1901. He repaid her memory later by writing her biography. During this time Forster traveled through Italy (the...
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E. M. Forster has enjoyed both a high reputation and popularity as a novelist. Several of his novels have been filmed—most notably A Room with a View (1908; film, 1986) and Howards End (1910; film, 1992). His first novel, Where Angels Fear to Tread, was published in 1905, and his last, A Passage to India, in 1924. Thereafter he published no fiction, although he lived another forty-six years. Why he should have experienced a twenty-year burst of creativity and then lapsed into silence cannot be entirely explained, but Nicola Beauman makes a superb effort, as well as demonstrating how complete Forster’s career as a novelist actually was and why, even though he stopped producing fiction in...
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