A brief discussion of the author and the validity of the status of his most famous work as a classic.
Edward Morgan Forster, noted author of such classics as A Passage to India and A Room With a View, was born on January 1, 1879, to British parents in London, England. His father, an architect, died two years after the birth of his only child. Consequently, E.M. Forster was raised primarily by his mother and various aunts. After attending King’s College for his formal schooling, Forster received a large sum of inheritance from his aunt Marianne Thornton. With this money, Forster was able to travel the world comfortably and begin his career as a writer. After publishing 5 complete novels, Forster retired for the most part from his career as a novelist, but several of his works were published posthumously.
Forster’s works are mainly known for their concentration on the subject of class divisions. It was later noted, especially after the publication of Forster’s final complete novel, Maurice, that Forster’s concentration on sexuality evolved as his career as a writer did. Though Maurice was published posthumously, it was actually written many years before, between 1913 and 1914. It is believed to be semi-autobiographical, and chronicles a homosexual relationship that parallels that of the author and his first lover. Until the book’s publication in 1971, it was not publicly known that Forster was a homosexual. Maurice was written after Forster’s work in < namespace="" prefix="st1" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" xml="true">Egypt as a Red Cross worker during World War I, when he met and became infatuated with Mohammed el-Adl, who died tragically from tuberculosis in the spring of 1922.
After working in Egypt, E.M. Forster traveled to India, where he became a private secretary to the Marajah of Dewas. While in his employ, Forster wrote The Hill of Devi, a non-fiction piece that mainly concerned travel. Edward also fell in love with Kanaya, who was his first long-term love interest. Upon returning to England, Forster penned A Passage To India, for which he is best known. The story involves a tale of intrigue in British colonial India, and is a prime example of E.M. Forster’s preoccupation with class relations. Forster’s literary pieces had the effect of bringing into sharp focus human relations, especially between social classes. He could best be described as an observant man, often noted for his keen examinations of human nature, which is especially true for A Passage to India, a novel mainly concerned with the effects of colonialism on the Indian culture.
Though E.M. Forster retired from writing novels at the age of 45, he continued to write short stories that were intended to be read by close friends within his circle. After his death, several of these stories were published together in The Life to Come and Other Stories. It is worthwhile to note that while E.M. Forster was largely concerned with relations between social groups, this proved to be rather ironic in his actual life. Both of Forster’s early love interests were stuck firmly in the lower-class group, the first being a tram conductor, the second, a barber. Forster overcame many obstacles in his lifetime. Being raised without a father was very difficult, and the realization of his own sexuality in that era could have proved to be the undoing of his career. Forster is notable for his contributions to the literary world. In his seven novels he opened up the public to the examinations of one skilled in the art of observation, and exposed the public to a wide array of exotic locales, for it is true that E.M. Forster was exceedingly well traveled for someone of his age in the early 1900s. His ability to open the public’s eyes, though, to their own circumstances both at home and abroad is perhaps what he is best known for, and rightly so. Imagine, what would have happened, had Forster lived to see our present day and age. What would he say? What searing observations would he have made in our current culture? The world will never know.