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E. M. Forster

E. M. Forster E. M. Forster[1†]

Edward Morgan Forster (1 January 1879 – 7 June 1970) was an English author, best known for his novels, particularly “A Room with a View” (1908), “Howards End” (1910), and “A Passage to India” (1924). He also wrote numerous short stories, essays, speeches, and broadcasts, as well as a limited number of biographies and some pageant plays[1†][2†]. Today, he is considered one of the most successful of the Edwardian era English novelists[1†].

Forster’s work is marked by his keen observation of class difference and hypocrisy in English society. His novels often examine these themes, providing a critical analysis of the English social landscape during his time[1†][2†]. His writing style broke away from the elaborations and intricacies favored in the late 19th century, adopting a freer, more colloquial style[1†][2†].

Forster was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 22 separate years, highlighting the significant impact and influence of his work[1†].

Early Years and Education

Edward Morgan Forster, known as E. M. Forster, was born on January 1, 1879, in London, England[2†][3†]. He was the only child of Alice Clara “Lily” Forster and Edward Morgan Llewellyn Forster[2†][3†]. His father, an architect, passed away from tuberculosis when Forster was less than two years old[2†][3†]. He was then raised by his mother and his paternal great-aunt, Marianne Thornton[2†][3†][4†].

Forster’s early life was marked by a significant inheritance from his great-aunt Marianne Thornton, which later enabled him to pursue his dream of becoming a writer[2†][3†][4†]. This inheritance also allowed him to travel extensively, experiences that would later find their way into his stories[2†][3†].

Forster’s formal education began at Tonbridge School in Kent, where he was a day student[2†][3†][5†][6†]. This phase of his life would later form the basis of many of his criticisms of the English public school system[2†][3†][5†].

He then went on to study history, philosophy, and literature at King’s College, Cambridge[2†][3†][4†][6†]. His time at Cambridge was transformative. He enjoyed a sense of intellectual liberation, developing a sense of uniqueness and a healthy skepticism[2†][3†]. He was also introduced to the importance of Mediterranean civilization as a counterbalance to the more straitlaced attitudes of northern European countries[2†][3†].

During his years at King’s College, Forster was an active participant in groups such as the Cambridge Conversazione Society, also known as the Cambridge Apostles[2†][3†]. These experiences greatly influenced his worldview and his writing.

Career Development and Achievements

After leaving Cambridge, Forster decided to devote his life to writing[1†]. His first novels and short stories were redolent of an age that was shaking off the shackles of Victorianism[1†][2†]. While adopting certain themes from earlier English novelists such as George Meredith, he broke with the elaborations and intricacies favored in the late 19th century and wrote in a freer, more colloquial style[1†][2†]. From the first, his novels included a strong strain of social comment, based on acute observation of middle-class life[1†][2†].

Forster’s fame rests largely on his novels “Howards End” (1910) and “A Passage to India” (1924)[1†][2†][1†]. These works, along with “A Room with a View” (1908), are considered his most notable contributions to English literature[1†]. He also wrote numerous short stories, essays, speeches, and broadcasts, as well as a limited number of biographies and some pageant plays[1†]. He co-authored the opera “Billy Budd” (1951)[1†].

Forster’s enduring achievement rests upon his novels, his critical study “Aspects of the Novel” (1927), and his continuing, principled defense of liberal humanism despite the upheavals of the early twentieth century[1†][4†]. His essays and frequent lectures on political topics established his reputation as a liberal thinker and strong advocate of democracy[1†][5†].

Forster was awarded membership in the Order of Companions of Honor in 1953 and received the Order of Merit from Queen Elizabeth in 1969[1†][5†]. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 22 separate years[1†].

First Publication of His Main Works

E. M. Forster’s literary career spanned more than six decades, during which he published a number of significant works that have left an indelible mark on English literature[7†][1†].

Here are some of his main works along with the year of their first publication:

Forster also published three collections of short stories: “The Celestial Omnibus” (1911), “The Story of the Siren” (1920), and “The Eternal Moment” (1928)[7†][9†]. In addition, he wrote two critical works, “Aspects of the Novel” (1927) and “Abinger Harvest” (1936)[7†][9†].

Each of these works not only showcases Forster’s narrative skill and keen social observation but also reflects his deep humanism and liberal values[7†][4†].

Analysis and Evaluation

E. M. Forster’s work is characterized by his unique narrative style and his keen social observations[10†]. His novels often explore themes of class and hypocrisy in English society[10†]. Forster’s writing style deviated from the elaborate and intricate styles favored in the late 19th century, adopting a freer, more colloquial style[10†]. His works also reflect his deep humanism and liberal values[10†].

Forster’s novels, particularly “A Room with a View”, “Howards End”, and “A Passage to India”, have been critically acclaimed for their exploration of social conventions, codes of conduct, and personal relationships in turn-of-the-century England[10†][2†]. His posthumously published novel “Maurice” is notable for its open exploration of homosexuality, a theme that was considered taboo at the time[10†][11†].

Forster’s work has been analyzed in relation to the political and military occupation of India, reflecting the colonial approach of the time[10†][12†]. His Italian works have also been read in relation to the empire and the civilizing mission of the time[10†][12†].

Despite the sliding of Forster’s reputation after his death and the posthumous publication of “Maurice” and “The Life to Come”, he continues to stand apart from other major novelists of the twentieth century[10†][11†]. His work presents problems for assessment because it is difficult to decide by which standards his work should be judged[10†][11†].

Personal Life

Edward Morgan Forster, known as E. M. Forster, was a private individual when it came to his personal life[13†]. He was homosexual, but this fact was not widely known during his lifetime[13†]. Forster had a long-term relationship with a married policeman named Bob Buckingham and even stood as godfather for one of Buckingham’s children[13†]. This relationship, like much of his personal life, was kept discreet[13†].

Forster’s father died soon after his birth, and he was raised by his mother and a series of aunts and governesses[13†][4†]. As a child, Forster received an inheritance from his paternal great-aunt Marianne Thornton that enabled him to travel and, later, write with little concern for finances[13†][4†].

Forster passed away on 7 June 1970[13†]. His legacy continues to live on through his novels, essays, and critical analyses, which continue to be widely read and studied[13†][1†][2†].

Conclusion and Legacy

E. M. Forster’s legacy is one of enduring influence and relevance. His novels, including “Howards End” and “A Passage to India”, continue to be widely read and studied[4†]. His critical study “Aspects of the Novel” (1927) and his principled defense of liberal humanism have had a lasting impact on the literary world[4†].

Forster’s work has been acknowledged by many British novelists and film directors, who have claimed his influence[4†][14†]. His exploration of the English soul and his faith in human relationships and liberal-humanism have left a lasting imprint on British literature[4†][14†].

Literary critic Lionel Trilling once wrote that “E.M. Forster is for me 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”[4†]. This sentiment encapsulates the enduring appeal and influence of Forster’s work.

Forster’s legacy is not just confined to his literary contributions. His personal philosophy, his views on society, and his advocacy for individual freedom and human connection have left a lasting impact on readers and writers alike[4†][14†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Wikipedia (English) - E. M. Forster [website] - link
  2. Britannica - E.M. Forster: British writer [website] - link
  3. The Famous People - E. M. Forster Biography [website] - link
  4. Yale University - The Modernism Lab - E.M. Forster [website] - link
  5. GradeSaver - E.M. Forster Biography [website] - link
  6. Britain Unlimited - E.M. Forster Biography/Chronology [website] - link
  7. eNotes - Works by E. M. Forster [website] - link
  8. Humanist Heritage - Exploring the rich history and influence of humanism in the UK - E. M. Forster (1879-1970) [website] - link
  9. EnglishLiterature.info - E. M. Forster: Contribution as Modern English Novel [website] - link
  10. eNotes - E. M. Forster Analysis [website] - link
  11. Project MUSE - Johns Hopkins University Press - Evaluating E. M. Forster [website] - link
  12. Cambridge Scholars Publishing - The World of E. M. Forster – E. M. Forster and the World [website] - link
  13. SunSigns - E. M. Forster Biography, Life, Interesting Facts [website] - link
  14. Academia - «Only Connect»: E. M. Forster’s Legacies in British Fiction [website] - link
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