Born January 1, 1879, in London, England; died June 7, 1970, in Coventry, England; son of Edward Morgan Llewellyn and Alice Clara (Whichelo) Forster. Education: King's College, Cambridge, B.A. (second-class honors in classics), 1900, B.A. (second-class honors in history), 1901, M.A., 1910. Avocational Interests: Forster was greatly interested in music and is said to have been an accomplished amateur pianist. Memberships: American Academy of Arts and Letters (honorary corresponding member), Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts (honorary corresponding member), Cambridge Humanists (president), Reform Club.
Lived in Greece and Italy after leaving Cambridge in 1901, remaining abroad until 1907, except for a brief visit to England in 1902; lectured at Working Men's College, London, for a period beginning in 1907; made first trip to India in 1912; Red Cross volunteer in Alexandria, 1915-19; returned to England after the war where he was literary editor of the Labor Party's Daily Herald for a time, and contributed reviews to journals including Nation and New Statesman; served as private secretary to the Maharajah of Dewas State Senior, 1921; lived in England, writing and lecturing, 1921-70. Gave annual Clark Lectures at Cambridge University, 1927, Rede Lecturer, 1941, W. P. Ker Lecturer, 1944; made lecture tour of United States in 1947. Member of general advisory council, British Broadcasting Corp., and writer of numerous broadcasts; was a vice-president of the London Library.
James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and Prix Femina Vie Heureuse, both 1925, both for A Passage to India; LL.D., University of Aberdeen, 1931; Benson Medal, Royal Society of Literature, 1937; honorary fellow, King's College, Cambridge, 1946; Litt.D., University of Liverpool, 1947, Hamilton College, 1949, Cambridge University, 1950, University of Nottingham, 1951, University of Manchester, 1954, Leiden University, 1954, and University of Leicester, 1958; Tukojimo III Gold Medal; Companion of Honour, 1953; Companion of Royal Society of Literature; Order of Merit, 1969.
- Where Angels Fear to Tread (novel), Blackwood, 1905, Knopf, 1920, recent edition, Holmes & Meier, 1978.
- The Longest Journey (novel), Blackwood, 1907; Knopf, 1922; recent edition, Holmes & Meier, 1985; with introduction by Jeffrey Meyers, Bantam Classics, 1997.
- A Room With a View (novel), Edward Arnold, 1908, Putnam, 1911, recent edition, Random House, 1989.
- Howards End (novel), Putnam, 1910, Random House, 1989; published with appendices and criticism, edited by Paul B. Armstrong, Norton, 1997; also with history and criticism, edited by Alistair M. Duckworth, Bedford Books, 1997.
- The Celestial Omnibus, and Other Stories, Sidgwick & Jackson, 1911, Knopf, 1923, recent edition, Random House, 1976.
- The Story of the Siren (short story), Hogarth Press, 1920.
- The Government of Egypt (history), Labour Research Department, 1921.
- Alexandria: A History and a Guide, W. Morris, 1922, 3rd edition, Doubleday-Anchor, 1961, recent edition, Oxford University Press, 1986.
- Pharos and Pharillon (history), Knopf, 1923, 3rd edition, Hogarth Press, 1943.
- A Passage to India (novel), Harcourt, 1924, recent edition, Holmes & Meier, 1979, adapted for the stage by Martin Sherman, Methuen (London, England), 2002.
- Anonymity: An Enquiry, V. Woolf, 1925.
- Aspects of the Novel (Clark Lecture, 1927 ), Harcourt, 1927, recent edition, Holmes & Meier, 1978.
- The Eternal Moment, and Other Stories, Harcourt, 1928, reprinted, 1970.
- A Letter to Madan Blanchard (belles lettres), Hogarth Press, 1931, Harcourt, 1932.
- Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson (biography), Harcourt, 1934, new edition, Edward Arnold, 1945, recent edition, Holmes & Meier, 1978.
- Abinger Harvest (essays), Harcourt, 1936, reprinted, 1966.
- What I Believe (political), Hogarth Press, 1939.
- Nordic Twilight (political), Macmillan, 1940.
- England's Pleasant Land (pageant play), Hogarth Press, 1940.
- Virginia Woolf (criticism; Rede Lecture, 1941) Harcourt, 1942.
- The Development of English Prose Between 1918 and 1939 (criticism; W. P. Ker Lecture, 1944), Jackson & Co. (Glasgow), 1945.
- The Collected Tales of E. M. Forster (previously published as The Celestial Omnibus and The Eternal Moment ), Knopf, 1947 (published in England as Collected Short Stories of E. M. Forster, Sidgwick & Jackson, 1948 ).
- (Author of libretto with Eric Crozier) Billy Budd (based on the novel by Herman Melville; music by Benjamin Britten), Boosey & Hawkes, 1951, revised edition, 1961.
- Two Cheers for Democracy (essays), Edward Arnold, 1951.
- Desmond MacCarthy, Mill House Press, 1952.
- The Hill of Devi, Harcourt, 1953 (published in England as The Hill of Devi: Being Letters from Dewas State Senior, Edward Arnold, 1953; also see below).
- Battersea Rise (first chapter of Marianne Thornton see below), Harcourt, 1955.
- Marianne Thornton: A Domestic Biography, 1797-1887, Harcourt, 1956.
- E. M. Forster: Selected Writings, edited by G. B. Parker, Heinemann Educational, 1968.
- Albergo Empedocle and Other Writings (previously unpublished material, written 1900-15), edited by George H. Thomson, Liveright, 1971.
- Maurice (novel), Norton, 1971, reprinted, 1987.
- The Life to Come and Other Stories, Norton, 1973.
- The Hill of Devi and Other Indian Writings (includesThe Hill of Devi), edited by Oliver Stallybrass, Holmes & Meier, 1983.
- Selected Letters of E. M. Forster, edited by Mary Lago and P. N. Furbank, Harvard University Press, Volume 1:1879-1920, 1983, Volume 2: 1921-1970, 1984.
- Commonplace Book, edited by Philip Gardner, Stanford University Press, 1985.
- Original Letters from India, Hogarth Press, 1986.
- The New Collected Short Stories by E. M. Forster, Sidgwick & Jackson, 1987.
- (With Rod Mengham) The Machine Stops: And Other Stories, E. M. Forster Works, Vol. 7, Trafalgar Square, 1998.
- The Prince's Tale and Other Uncollected Writings, Abinger Edition of E.M. Forster, Vol. 17, Andre Deutsch Ltd, 1998.
- Selected Stories, edited by David Leavitt and Mark Mitchell, Penguin (New York, NY), 2001.
Also author of Reading as Usual (criticism), 1939. Author of unfinished novel, "Arctic Summer," published in Tribute to Benjamin Britten on His Fiftieth Birthday, edited by Anthony Gishford, Faber, 1963. Author of plays, "The Heart of Bosnia," 1911, and "The Abinger Pageant," 1934, and script for film, "Diary for Timothy."
- Arnold W. Lawrence, editor, T. E. Lawrence by His Friends, J. Cape, 1937.
- Hermon Ould, editor, Writers in Freedom, Hutchinson, 1942.
- George Orwell, editor, Talking to India, Allen & Unwin, 1943.
- Peter Grimes: Essays, John Lane, for the governors of Sadler's Wells Foundation, 1945.
- Hermon Ould, editor, Freedom of Expression: A Symposium, Hutchinson, 1945.
- S. Radhakrishnan, Mahatma Gandhi: Essays and Reflections on His Life and Work, 2nd edition, Allen & Unwin, 1949.
- Hermon Ould: A Tribute, [London], 1952.
- The Fearful Choice: A Debate on Nuclear Policy, conducted by Philip Toynbee, Wayne State University Press, 1959.
Also contributor to Aspects of England, 1935, andBritain and the Beast, 1937.
AUTHOR OF INTRODUCTION
- (And notes) Virgil, The Aeneid, translated by E. Fairfax Taylor, Dent, 1906.
- (And notes) Eliza Fay, Original Letters from India, 1799-1815, Harcourt, 1925.
- Constance Sitwell, Flowers and Elephants, J. Cape, 1927.
- George Crabbe, Jr., The Life of George Crabbe, Oxford University Press, 1932.
- Maurice O'Sullivan, Twenty Years A-Growing, Chatto & Windus, 1933.
- Mulk Raj Anand, Untouchable, Wishart, 1935.
- Alec Craig, The Banned Books of England, Allen & Unwin, 1937.
- K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar, Literature and Authorship in India, Allen & Unwin, 1943.
- Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, Letters from John Chinaman and Other Essays, Allen & Unwin, 1946.
- Huthi Singh, Maura, Longmans, Green, 1951.
- Zeenuth Futehally, Zohra, Hind Kitabs (Bombay), 1951.
- Peter Townsend, editor, Cambridge Anthology, Hogarth Press, 1952.
- Forrest Reid, Tom Barber, Pantheon, 1955.
- Dickinson, The Greek View of Life, University of Michigan Press, 1958.
- D. Windham, The Warm Country, Hart-Davis, 1960.
- Guiseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Two Stories and a Memory, translated by A. Colquhoun, Pantheon, 1962.
- Frank Sargeson, Collected Stories, MacGibbon & Kee, 1965.
- Author of notes for various books, including William Golding's,Lord of the Flies, Coward, 1955. Work is represented in collections, including The Challenge of Our Time, Percival Marshall, 1948, and Fairy Tales for Computers, Eakins Press, 1969.
- Contributor to journals and periodicals, including Listener, Independent Review, Observer, New Statesman, Nation, Albany Review, Open Window, Athenaeum, Egyptian Mail, and Horizon.
"A Passage to E. M. Forster," a play based on his works, was compiled by William Roerick and Thomas Coley, and produced in New York, NY at Theatre de Lys in October, 1970. A Room With a View was adapted as a play by Stephen Tait and Kenneth Allcott, produced in Cambridge, February, 1950, and published by Edward Arnold, 1951; it was adapted for film by Merchant-Ivory Productions and released by Cinecom in 1986. A Passage to India was adapted for the stage by Santha Rama Rau, and published by Edward Arnold, 1960; it was produced in London in 1960 and on Broadway in 1962; the television adaptation by John Maynard was produced by the BBC, and broadcast by NET in 1968; it was adapted into a film, directed by David Lean, and released by Columbia Pictures in 1984; adapted as a stage play by Martin Sherman for the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York, 2004. Where Angels Fear to Tread was adapted as a play by Elizabeth Hart, S. French, 1963, and as a film directed by Charles Sturridge in 1991. Howards End was adapted for stage by Lance Sieveking and Richard Cottrell and produced in London in 1967; the BBC production, adapted by Pauline Macaulay, was broadcast in 1970; it was also released as a film directed by James Ivory in 1992. Maurice was adapted into a film by Merchant-Ivory Productions and released by Cinecom in 1987.
E. M. Forster's talent is now labeled "genius" as a matter of course--Graham Greene called it "the gentle genius"; another critic once wrote: "So erratically and spasmodically has he worked that one cannot think of his genius as in course of development; it comes and goes, apparently as it wills."
His production of novels was sparse--he had published five by 1924, and the sixth, Maurice, was issued posthumously after a hiatus of almost fifty years. Yet what Rose Macaulay concluded of Forster's position before his death in 1970 was undoubtedly true: "If you asked a selection of educated English readers of fiction to pick out our most distinguished living novelist, nine out of ten, I should say, would answer E. M. Forster."
It was once said that "his reputation goes up with every book he doesn't write." Morton Dauwen Zabel wrote that Forster had "no stylistic followers and perhaps few disciples in thought, yet if one were fixing the provenance of Auden's generation, Forster's name--whatever the claim of James, Lawrence, or Eliot--would suggest the most accurate combination of critical and temperamental forces, the only one stamped by the peculiarly English skeptical sensibility that survived the war with sanity...."
Though his novels were early established as classics, Forster never enjoyed tremendous popular success. Zabel commented that during his lifetime Forster "practiced the difficult strategy of writing little but making it count for much...." His writings are concerned with the complexity of human nature. What he called the "Primal Curse" is not the knowledge of good and evil, but the knowledge of good-and-evil in its inextricable and unknowable complexity. Such a complex relationship cannot be explained by dogma. In 1939, Forster wrote: "I do not believe in Belief. Faith, to my mind, is a stiffening process, a sort of mental starch, which ought to be applied as sparingly as possible. I dislike the stuff.... My law givers are Erasmus and Montaigne, not Moses and St. Paul. My temple stands not upon Mount Moriah, but in that Elysian Field where even the immoral are admitted. My motto is: `Lord, I disbelieve--help thou my unbelief.'"
Another time Forster wrote: "Truth, being alive, is not halfway between anything." Seeking the wholeness of truth he searched for a "synthesis of matter and essence, of civilization with its inhibitions and nature with its crude energy," wrote Zabel. "And like Andre Gide, whom he respected, he is one of the `free minds'.... He too makes it his task to transmit not `life's greatness,' which he has called `a Nineteenth Century perquisite, a Goethean job,' but `life's complexity, and the delight, the difficulty, the duty of registering that complexity and conveying it.'"
In 1941, at a time when such tenets were losing influence, he proclaimed his support of art for art's sake. He wrote: "The work of art stands by itself, and nothing else does. It achieves something which has often been promised by society but always delusively. Ancient Athens made a mess--but the Antigone stands up. Renaissance Rome made a mess--but the ceiling of the Sistine got painted; Louis XIV made a mess--but there was Phedre; Louis XV continued it, but Voltaire got his letters written."
Forster's style is meticulous. Macaulay writes that "his presentment of people... is most delicately exact. Tones of speech, for instance. He is perhaps the only novelist, apart from Jane Austen, none of whose characters could, when speaking, be confused with any others in the book. And this without any of the obvious tricks and slogans which those whom he calls `flat' characters in fiction fly like identifying flags."
Austin Warren, however, observed certain shortcomings: "Neither at wholeness nor at steadiness do his novels completely succeed. There are wide and deep lacunae: except for the Basts [in Howards End], there are no poor. From poverty, hunger, lust, and hate, his people are exempt. Love between the sexes, though recognized with sympathy, is never explored and is central to none of his novels. Except in A Passage to India, the individual is not portrayed in relation to society...."
Forster told his Paris Review interviewers that he wrote only under inspiration, but that the act of writing inspired him. His childhood was very literary--"I was the author of a number of works between the ages of six and ten," he recalled. He thought highly of his own works and read them often. ("I go gently over the bits I think are bad.") He also said: "I have always found writing pleasant, and don't understand what people mean by `throes of creation.' I've enjoyed it, but believe that in some ways it is good. Whether it will last, I have no idea."
FURTHER READINGS ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
- Armstrong, Paul B. (editor), Howards End: Authoritative Text, Textual Appendix, Backgrounds and Contexts, Criticism, Norton, 1997.
- Bakshi, Parminder Kaur, Distant Desire: Homoerotic Codes and the Subversion of the English Novel in E. M. Forster's Fiction, P. Lang (New York, NY), 1995.
- Bandyopaadhyaacya, Surabhi, E. M. Forster: A Critical Linguistic Approach, Allied (New Delhi), 1995.
- Beauman, Nicola, E. M. Forster: A Biography, Knopf (New York City), 1994.
- Beer, J. B., The Achievement of E. M. Forster, Barnes & Noble, 1963.
- Beer, J. B., editor, "A Passage to India": Essays in Interpretation, Barnes & Noble, 1985.
- Borrello, Alfred, An E. M. Forster Dictionary, Scarecrow, 1971.
- Borrello, Alfred, An E. M. Forster Glossary, Scarecrow, 1972.
- Bradbury, Malcolm, editor, Forster, Prentice-Hall, 1966.
- Bradbury, Malcolm, Possibilities: Essays on the State of the Novel, Oxford University Press, 1973, pp. 91-120.
- Brander, Laurence, E. M. Forster, Hart-Davis, 1968.
- Brower, Reuben A., The Fields of Light: An Experiment in Critical Reading, Oxford University Press, 1951, pp. 182-98.
- Colmer, John, E. M. Forster: The Personal Voice, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975.
- Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale, Volume 1, 1973, Volume 2, 1974, Volume 3, 1975, Volume 4, 1975, Volume 9, 1978, Volume 10, 1979, Volume 13, 1980, Volume 15, 1980, Volume 22, 1982, Volume 45, 1987, Volume 77, 1993.
- Cowley, Malcolm, editor, Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews, First Series, 1958.
- Crews, F. C., E. M. Forster: The Perils of Humanism, Princeton University Press, 1962.
- Das, G. K., Forster's India, Rowman & Littlefield, 1978.
- Das, G. K. and J. B. Beer, editors, E. M. Forster: A Human Exploration, Centenary Essays, New York University Press, 1979.
- Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 34: British Novelists, 1890-1929: Traditionalists, Gale, 1985.
- Duckworth, Alistair M. (editor), Howards End: Complete, Authoritative Text with Biographical and Historical Contexts, Critical History, and Essays from Five Contemporary Critical Perspectives, Bedford Books, 1997.
- Eldridge, C. C., The Imperial Experience: From Carlyle to Forster, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1996.
- Furbank, P. N., E. M. Forster: A Life, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978.
- Gardner, Philip, E. M. Forster, Longman, 1977.
- Gardner, Philip, editor, E. M. Forster: The Critical Heritage, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974.
- Godfrey, Denis, Forster's Other Kingdom, Barnes & Noble, 1968.
- Gowda, H. H. Anniah, A Garland for E. M. Forster, Literary Half-Yearly, 1969.
- Gransden, Karl Watts, E. M. Forster, Grove, 1962, revised edition, Oliver & Boyd, 1970.
- Herz, Judith Scherer, The Short Narratives of E. M. Forster, St. Martin's Press, 1988.
- Herz, Judith Scherer and Robert K. Martin, editors, E. M. Forster: Centenary Revaluations, Macmillan, 1982.
- Johnstone, J. K., The Bloomsbury Group, Noonday, 1954.
- Kelvin, Norman, E. M. Forster, Southern Illinois University Press, 1967. Levine, June P., Creation and Criticism: A Passage to India, University of Nebraska Press, 1971.
- King, Francis E., E. M. Forster and His World, Scribners, 1978.
- Kirkpatrick, B. J., A Bibliography of E. M. Forster, Clarendon Press, 1985.
- Lago, Mary, E. M. Forster: A Literary Life, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1995.
- Land, Stephen K., Challenge and Conventionality in the Fiction of Forster, 1990.
- Lavin, Audrey A. P., Aspects of the Novelist: E. M. Forster's Pattern and Rhythm, P. Lang (New York, NY), 1995.
- Levine, June Perry, Creation and Criticism: "A Passage to India," University of Nebraska Press, 1971.
- Macaulay, Rose, Writings of E. M. Forster, Harcourt, 1938, new edition, Barnes & Noble, 1970.
- Martin, John Sayre, E. M. Forster: The Endless Journey, Cambridge University Press, 1976.
- Martin, Robert K., and George Piggford, editors, Queer Forster, University of Chicago Press, 1997.
- May, Brian, The Modernist as Pragmatist: E.M. Forster and the Fate of Liberalism, University of Missouri Press, 1997.
- McConkey, James, The Novels of E. M. Forster, Archon Books, 1971.
- McDowell, Frederick P. W., editor, E. M. Forster: An Annotated Bibliography of Writings about Him, Northern Illinois University Press, 1977.
- McDowell, Frederick P. W., E. M. Forster, Twayne, 1982.
- Meyers, Jeffrey, Fiction and the Colonial Experience, Rowman & Littlefield, pp. 29-54.
- Natwar-Singh, K., editor, E. M. Forster: A Tribute, Harcourt, 1964.
- Oliver, H. J., The Art of E. M. Forster, Cambridge University Press, 1960.
- Rapport, Nigel, The Prose and the Passion: Anthropology, Literature, and the Writing of E. M. Forster, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1994.
- Rose, Martial, E. M. Forster, Arco, 1971.
- Rosecrance, Barbara, Forster's Narrative Vision, Cornell University Press, 1982.
- Rosenbaum, S. P., editor, The Bloomsbury Group: A Collection of Memoirs, Commentary and Criticism, University of Toronto Press, 1975.
- Rosenbaum, S. P., Victorian Bloomsbury: The Early Literary History of the Bloomsbury Group, volume one, St. Martin's Press, 1987.
- Rutherford, Andrew, Twentieth Century Interpretations of A Passage to India, Prentice-Hall, 1970.
- Sahni, Chaman L., Forster's " A Passage to India": The Religious Dimension, Arnold Heinemann, 1981.
- Schorer, Mark, editor, Modern British Fiction, Oxford University Press, 1961.
- Shahane, Vasant Anant, editor, Perspectives on E. M. Forster's A Passage to India, Barnes & Noble, 1968.
- Shusterman, David, The Quest for Certitude in E. M. Forster's Fiction, Indiana University Press, 1965.
- Stallybrass, Oliver, editor, Aspects of E. M. Forster, Harcourt, 1969.
- Stape, J.H., E. M. Forster, Routledge, 1998.
- Stone, Wilfred, The Cave and the Mountain, Oxford University Press, 1966.
- Summers, Claude J., E. M. Forster, Ungar, 1983.
- Swinnerton, Frank, The Georgian Literary Scene, Dent, 1938, revised edition, 1951.
- Tambling, Jeremy, E. M. Forster, St. Martin's Press (New York City), 1995.
- Thomson, George H., The Fiction of E. M. Forster, Wayne State University Press, 1967.
- Trilling, Lionel, E. M. Forster, New Directions, 1943, 2nd revised edition, 1965.
- Warren, Austin, Rage for Order, University of Michigan Press, 1948.
- Wilde, Alan, editor, Critical Essays on E. M. Forster, G. K. Hall, 1985.
- Zabel, Morton Dauwen, Craft and Character, Viking, 1957.
- Books and Bookmen, August, 1970.
- Chicago Tribune, April 9, 1986, April 1, 1987.
- Christian Century, July 22, 1970.
- Criterion, October, 1934.
- Critical Inquiry, autumn, 1985, pp. 59-87.
- Criticism, winter, 1980, pp. 40-56.
- Dublin Review, 1946.
- Encounter, Volume 9, 1957.
- Forum, December, 1927.
- Globe and Mail (Toronto), January 14, 1984, March 8, 1986.
- Journal of Modern Literature, March, 1983, pp. 109-24; summer, 1988, pp. 121-40.
- Listener, July 9, 1970.
- Literary Half-Yearly, July, 1992, pp. 23-30.
- Los Angeles Times, March 31, 1987, October 1, 1987, November 22, 1987.
- Los Angeles Times Book Review, August 3, 1986.
- Mademoiselle, June, 1964.
- Modern Fiction Studies, autumn, 1961, pp. 258-70; summer, 1967, pp. 195-210.
- Modern Philology, August, 1981, pp. 45-60.
- Nation, June 29, 1970, November 29, 1971.
- New Republic, October 5, 1949, January 1, 1964.
- Newsweek, June 22, 1970, September 21, 1987.
- New Yorker, September, 1959.
- New York Times, December 18, 1985, March 7, 1986, May 30, 1986, September 13, 1987, September 18, 1987, October 4, 1987.
- New York Times Book Review, December 29, 1968, January 8, 1984.
- Novel, fall, 1988, pp. 86-105.
- PMLA, December, 1955, pp. 934-54; January, 1984, pp. 72-88.
- Scrutiny, September, 1938.
- Textual Practice, summer, 1991, pp. 195-218.
- Theology, April, 1940.
- Times (London), February 4, 1982, December 29, 1983, March 14, 1987.
- Times Literary Supplement, June 22, 1962, April 16, 1982, April 5, 1985, May 24, 1985.
- Twentieth Century Literature, July, 1961, pp. 51-63; (E. M. Forster issue) summer-fall, 1985; winter, 1992, pp. 365-85.
- Vogue, January 1, 1965.
- Washington Post, October 2, 1987.
- Washington Post Book World, January 1, 1984.
- Wide Angle, October, 1989, pp. 42-51.
- Yale Review, June, 1944.
- Christian Science Monitor, June 18, 1970.
- Listener, June 18, 1970.
- New Statesman, June 12, 1970.
- New York Review of Books, July 23, 1970.
- New York Times, June 8, 1970.
- Observer, June 14, 1970.
- Time, June 22, 1970.
- Washington Post, June 8, 1970.