Forster, E(dward) M(organ)
English novelist, short-story writer, and critic. He was concerned with the interplay of personality and the conflict between convention and instinct. His novels include A Room with a View (1908), Howards End (1910), and A Passage to India (1924). Other works include the collections of stories The Celestial Omnibus (1911) and Collected Short Stories (1948), and the collection of essays and reviews ‘Abinger Harvest’ (1936). His most lasting critical work is Aspects of the Novel (1927). The integrity with which Forster approached life in his novels has also enhanced the value of his miscellaneous and critical writings. Many of his works have been successfully adapted for film.
Forster was born in London, England, and educated at Tonbridge School and King's College, Cambridge, of which he became a fellow in 1927. At Cambridge he made a lifelong friendship with English writer Lowes Dickinson; along with Dickinson, F Nathaniel Wedd, his classics tutor, G M Trevelyan, and others, Forster founded the Independent Review in 1903 (Forster wrote for the magazine after his return from his travels in Italy in 1902-1903). His experiences in Italy provided the background for Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905) and A Room with a View. A Passage to India was begun shortly after the publication of The Celestial Omnibus. Aspects of the Novel was delivered first as the Clark lectures in Cambridge in 1927 and published the same year. A volume of short stories, The Eternal Moment (1928), included pieces such as ‘The Story of the Siren’ which were written much earlier. Other books are What I Believe (1939), Nordic Twilight (1940), and the Rede lecture on English writer Virginia Woolf, published in 1942. Besides Abinger Harvest, another collection of essays was Two Cheers for Democracy (1951); he also wrote the libretto (words) for Benjamin Britten's opera Billy Budd (1951). Forster was awarded the Benson Medal in 1937 and was made a Companion of Literature by the Royal Society of Literature in 1961.
The superficial situations of Forster's plots are enhanced by unexpected insights in The Longest Journey (1907), A Room with a View, and Howards End. These three novels explore Forster's preoccupation with the need to find intellectual and spiritual harmony in a world dominated by narrow social conventions. His many years spent in India and as secretary to the Maharajah of Dewas provided him with the material for his best-known work A Passage to India, which explores the relationship between the English and the Indians with insight and wisdom. It is considered to be one of the most influential of modern English novels. Maurice, written in 1914 and published in 1971, has a homosexual theme.
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