Edward Morgan Forster

Edward Morgan Forster

Biography of Edward Morgan Forster

E. M. Forster Forster was born in London in 1879, the son of an architect. He attended Tonbridge School, which he hated; he caricatured what he termed "public school behavior" in several of his novels. A different atmosphere awaited him at King's College, Cambridge, which he enjoyed thoroughly.

After graduation, he began to write short stories. He lived for a time in Italy, the scene of two of his early novels: Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905), and A Room with a View (1908). Cambridge is the setting for The Longest Journey (1907). It was in this year that he returned to England and delivered a series of lectures at Working Men's College. His most mature work to date was to appear in 1910 with the publication of Howards End.

Forster then turned to literary journalism and wrote a play which was never staged. In 1911 he went to India with G. Lowes Dickinson, his mentor at King's College. During World War 1, Forster was engaged in civilian war work in Alexandria. He returned to London after the war as a journalist.

In 1921 he again went to India, to work as secretary to the Maharajah of Dewas State Senior. He had begun work on A Passage to India before this time, but on reading his notes in India, he was discouraged and put them aside. The book was published in 1924, having been written upon his return to England. This was his last novel. It is considered to be his magnum opus, and it won for the author the Femina Vie Heureuse and the James Tait Black Memorial prizes in 1925.

In 1927 Forster delivered the William George Clark lectures at Trinity College, Cambridge. Titled Aspects of the Novel, the lectures were published in book form the same year. Also in 1927 he became a Fellow of Cambridge.

Forster's writing after that time has been varied. A collection of short stories (The Eternal Moment) was published in 1928. Abinger Harvest (1936) is a collection of reprints of reviews and articles. During World War II he broadcast many essays over the BBC. He has written a pageant play (England's Pleasant Land), a film (Diary For Timothy), two biographies (Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson in 1934 and Marianne Thornton in 1956), a libretto for Benjamin Britten's opera, Billy Budd (with Eric Crozier), and numerous essays. In 1953 he published The Hill of Devi, an uneven collection of letters and reminiscences of his experiences in India.

In 1960 A Passage to India was adapted for the stage by Santha Rama Rau. After playing in London for a year, the play opened on Broadway on January 31, 1962, and ran for 110 performances. Although Forster was "delighted" with the adaptation, most of the American critics felt the play did not measure up to the novel.

In 1946, Forster moved to King's College in Cambridge to live there as an honorary fellow. Mr. Forster's numerous awards included membership in the Order of Companions of Honour, a recognition bestowed in 1953 by Queen Elizabeth II.

Forster died on June 7, 1970.

Novels by Edward Morgan Forster