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E. M. Forster (1879-1970)

E. M. Forster (1879-1970)
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E. M. Forster (1879-1970) was a noted English author and critic and a member of the Bloomsbury group.

Edward Morgan Forster was born in London on January 1, 1871 as the son of an architect, who died before his only child was two years old. Forster's childhood and much of his adult life was dominated by his mother and his aunts. Forster's years at Tonbridge School as a teenager were difficult - he suffered from the cruelty of his classmates. Forster attended King's College, Cambridge (1897-1901), where he met members of the later formed Bloomsbury group. After graduating he travelled in Italy and Greece with his mother, and on his return began to write essays and short stories for the liberal Independent Review. In 1905 Foster spent several months in Germany as tutor to the children of the Countess von Armin.

His first novel, Where Angels Fear To Tread appeared in 1905. In the following year he lectured on Italian art and history for the Cambridge Local Lectures Board. The Longest Journey appeared in 1907 followed by A Room With A View (1908), based partly on the material from extended holidays in Italy with his mother. Forster also wrote during the pre-war years a number of short stories, which were collected in The Celestial Omnibus (1914). Most of them were symbolic fantasies or fables.

Howards End (1910) was a story that centered on an English country house and dealt with the clash between two families, one interested in art and literature, the other only in business. The book brought together the themes of money, business and culture. Forster then embarked upon a new novel with a homosexual theme, Maurice which was revised several times during his life, and finally published posthumously in 1971.

Between the years 1912 and 1913 Forster travelled in India. From 1914 to 1915 he worked for the National Gallery in London. Following the outbreak of World War I, Forster joined the Red Cross and served in Alexandria, Egypt. In 1921 Forster returned to India, working as a private secretary to the Maharajah of Dewas. India was the scene of his masterwork A Passage To India (1924), an account of the country under British rule. It was Forster's last novel - and for the remaining 46 years of his life he devoted himself to other activities.

Forster wrote two biographies Goldsworthy Lowes Dickenson (1934) and Marianne Thornton (1956). The essay collections Abinger Harvest and Two Cheers for Democracy appeared in 1936 and 1951. The Hill of Devi a portrait of India with commentary appeared in 1953. Another posthumous publication was the collection of short stories The Life to Come (1972).

Forster contributed reviews and essays to numerous journals, most notably the Listener and he was an active member of PEN. In 1934 he became the first president of the National Council for Civil Liberties, and after his mother's death in 1945, he was elected an honorary fellow of King's and lived there for the remainder of his life. In 1949 Forster refused a knighthood. He was made a Companion of Honour in 1953 and in 1969 he accepted an Order of Merit. Forster died on June 7, 1970.


Edward Morgan Forster was born in London on 1 January 1879. He was the only son of Edward Morgan Llewellyn Forster and Alice Clara Whichelo. They were an upper middle class family but unfortuately his father, an architect, died when of consumption before EM Forster was two years old. He was raised by his mother and great-aunt Marianne Thornton. It was his mother (known as Lily to family and friends) that gave him the awareness of injustice and sense of propriety that is evident in his novels. EM Forster shared a house with his mother until her death in 1945.

Upper-middle class: The English class system is very deep rooted and complicated, but essentially follows a feudal system throughout the ages. The class system in Edwardian England was divided into the working classes, middle classes and upper classes. It was during this period that the middle classes truly began to expand. An average household income of an upper-middle class family has been said to be Ј750 - Ј1500 per year. The man of the house is likely to be a professional, such as a merchant, banker, solicitor, surgeon or manufacturer. The families Forster writes of in his novels A Room With A View and Howards End are upper-middle class.

Marianne Thornton: Forster later wrote a biography of his great aunt, which was published in 1956.

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