Biography of E.M. Forster

Portrait of E M Forster

E.M. Forster was an early twentieth century novelist.

When and Where was he Born?

1st January 1879, 6 Melcombe Place, Dorset Square, London NW1, England (Building no longer exists). Christened Edward Morgan Forster.

Family Background:

E.M. Forster was the only child of an architect, Edward Morgan Llewellyn Forster and Mother Alice Clara, known as Lily, nee Whichelo.

Education:

Tonbridge School, Kent as a day boy. Studied Classics and History at Kings College, Cambridge where he was influenced by the philosopher G.E. Moore.

Timeline of E.M. Forster:

1880: His father dies of tuberculosis on 30 October.

1887: E.M. Forster inherits £8,000 from his paternal great-aunt Marianne Thornton. She was the daughter of the abolitionist Henry Thornton. The money was enough for him to live on and thus become a writer in later years.

1893: He spends his early life at a house in Hertfordshire called “Rooksnest”. This would later prove the inspiration for the house in his novel “Howards End”.

1897: At Kings College Cambridge he becomes a member of a discussion group known as the Cambridge Conversazione Society (later the Apostles). This consisted of many people who were to go on to be known as the Bloomsbury Group.

King College, Cambridge
Kings College Chapel, Cambridge (copyright Anthony Blagg)

1901: After University Forster traveled extensively on the Continent with his mother and began to write seriously.

1902: Forster teaches at the Working Men’s College and Cambridge Local Lectures Board (extra-mural department).

1904: He begins contributing short stories to the “Independent Review”.

1905: Publication of the novel “Where Angels Fear to Tread”.

1907: E.M. Forster becomes a private tutor. Forster becomes a member of the Bloomsbury Group and a good friend of Virginia Woolf, Leonard Woolf, Lytton Strachey, and Roger Fry.

1910: Publication of “Howard’s End” which was his first major public success.

1912: He makes an extensive visit to India and begins writing “A Passage to India”.

1913: Forster begins writing “Maurice”, a novel about homosexual love. This was not published until after his death due to its controversial nature. (homosexuality illegal at the time).

1914: He visits Egypt, Germany and India with the political scientist Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson. He becomes a conscientious objector on the outbreak of the First World War.

1915: He works for the Red Cross in Alexandria.

1919: Forster returns to England.

1921: He visits India for the second time and becomes the private secretary of Tukojirao the Third, the Maharajah of Dewas.

1924: “A Passage to India” receives good reviews. He decides to give up writing novels because he could not write about sexual relations honestly and openly.

1927: He is elected a Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. He gives the Clark lectures which were then published as “Aspects of the Novel”.

1934: He becomes the First president of the National Council for Civil Liberties.

1945: Death of his mother. He is elected an Honorary Fellow at King’s College, Cambridge and lives in College from then on.

1947: He tours the United States to give lectures.

1953: Forster is awarded the Member of the Order of Companions of Honour by the Queen.

1969: He is awarded the Order of Merit on his ninetieth birthday.

When and Where did he Die?

1970: Forster died in the home of his good friends Bob and May Buckingham in Coventry after experiencing failing health and several strokes.

Ager at Death:

91.

Written Works:

1905: “Where Angels Fear to Tread”.
1907: “The Longest Journey”.
1908: “A Room With a View”.
1911: The Celestial Omnibus (and other stories) Short stories.
1912: “Howard’s End”.
1911: “Celestial Omnibus”.
1924: “A Passage to India”.
1927: “Aspects of the Novel”.
1928: “The Eternal Moment” short stories.
1934: “Abinger Pageant”, Plays and pageants.
1936: “Abinger Harvest”, a collection of his essays and reviews.
1940: “England’s Pleasant Land”, Plays and pageants.
1945: “A Diary for Timothy”, film scripts.
1947: “Collected Short Stories”.
1951: “Two Cheers for Democracy”. “Billy Budd” Libretto for the opera by Benjamin Britten (based on Herman Melville’s novel).
(1971): “Maurice”. (Written in 1913–14).
(1972): “The Life to Come and other stories”.
(2003): “Arctic Summer” (a fragment written in 1912–13).

Marriage:

Never married as homosexual. (Homosexuality was illegal in Great Britain before 1967).

Site of Grave:

Cremated with no religious ceremony, Coventry, England. Ashes scattered over the Buckingham’s rose garden.

Places of Interest:

SURREY:

Pine Copse, Abinger Hammer. (Former home).