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E. M. Forster

 

(1879-1970)

 

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

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