Jan 1, 1879
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@Short Story Writers, Timeline and Childhood
E. M. Forster born at
Not many at the time knew of Forster’s homosexuality. He confided it to his close friends but not to the public. Thus, he remained a bachelor throughout his life.
He was involved with many men throughout his life. In Alexandria, he fell in love with Mohammed el Adl, a tram conductor. He had a brief fling with Harry Daley, a member of the Bloomsbury group. A bus driver named, Arthur, was the subject of his affections till his wife found out and put an end to the relationship.
When Forster was 51, he met 28-year-old Bob Buckingham at a party thrown by JR Ackerley. Buckingham was a policeman who was married at the time. They shared a long loving relationship that extended to a secret domestic life at Forster’s Brunswick Square flat.
Born on January 1, 1879, in Middlesex, England, E. M. Forster was the only child of Alice Clara "Lily" Forster and Edward Morgan Llewellyn Forster. Officially called Henry Morgan Forster, his name Edward was accidentally given during his baptism.
Before Forster was two years old, his father, an architect, passed away from tuberculosis. He was then raised by his mother and paternal great-aunt, Marianne Thornton. Through her, he is the great-great-grandson of abolitionist, Henry Thornton.
Forster inherited £8000 from Marianne Thornton when she passed away in1887.. This amount was enough to live on and help him pursue his dream of becoming a writer.
He enrolled at Tonbridge School in Kent as a day student. This phase would later go on to form the basis of many of his criticisms of the English public school system.
He studied history, philosophy, and literature at King's College, Cambridge. He welcomed the intellectual depth here and he developed a sense of uniqueness and healthy skepticism that were a far cry from his early years.
Being raised by two families completely polar to each other gave E. M. Forster an insight into family tensions. This and his experience at Tonbridge formed the basis of his early novels that showcased the struggle to be free from Victorianism.
His first novel was ‘Where Angels Fear to Tread’ (1905). It was a dialogue with his audience that urged them to stay in contact with the Earth and cultivate their imagination. The same theme is followed in ‘The Longest Journey’ (1907) and ‘Howards End’ (1910).
His first visit to India was in 1912, at that time he was writing ‘Maurice’. The novel was officially published in 1971, a year after his death. This was done at his request due to the overtly homosexual theme of the novel.
He volunteered for the “International Red Cross” as a conscientious objector and served for three years in Alexandria, Egypt. His observations there inspired ‘Alexandria: A History and Guide’ (1922) and ‘Pharos and Pharillon: A Novelist's Sketchbook of Alexandria through the Ages’ (1923). During this time, he wrote many short stories for local newspapers under the pseudonym ‘Pharos’.
On his second visit to India in the early 1920s, the country was in a state of revolution. He became the private secretary to “Tukojirao III”, the Maharajah of Dewas. A non-fictional account of this period is chronicled in ‘The Hill of Devi’ (published in 1953).
‘A Room with a View’ (1908) was his most optimistic work. Set in Edwardian England, the book is a critique of English society. It ranks 79th on the ‘100 best English-language novels of the 20th century’ compiled by Modern Library.
His masterpiece was ‘Howards End’ (1910). The novel explores many themes such as social conventions in England, codes of conduct, and personal relationships. The epigraph narrates his impulse towards understanding and sympathy. It ranks 38th on the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century’ compiled by Modern Library.
Perhaps his greatest work was ‘A Passage to India’ (1924) based on his experiences in India. With the British Raj and Indian Independence Movement as the backdrop, this novel went on to become a part of the ‘All Time 100 Novels’ list by ‘Time Magazine.’