The Shapes of Life E.M. Forster

Categories: E M Forster Howards End

Traveling is great learning experience that shapes each individual in different ways. An example of this would be E.M. Forster because he would use his traveling experiences in his novels in which he also created a “free” environment type of feeling for reader because the plots always varied. E.M. Forster is known for his Romantic-based literature, his humanist view of life and his homosexuality. These are some factors that make E.M. Forster a significant and influential British author.

His experiences, love life, and background were all contributions of the person he was as a whole. One of the most important experiences happen on his early life which was his first influence.

E.M. Forster or Edward Morgan Forster, was born in Marylebone, UK on January 1879 and was the only child of Alice Clara Whichelo and Edward Morgan Liewellyn Forster. Though his official registered name was “Henry Morgan,” it was accidentally changed during his Baptist. Before he was two, his father passed away on October 30, 1880 from tuberculosis.

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In result of this, Forster had to live with his mother and paternal great-aunt, Marianne Thornton. On his father’s side, they were Christians which meant they had a high sense of moral responsibility, while on his mother’s side they were irresponsible but caring and generous. These differences and misunderstandings gave Forster a first person point of view on domestic tension which he later used in his writing. When his great-aunt, Marianne Thornton, passed away, Forster inherited £8000 which was enough for him to pursue his writing career.

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He attended Tonbridge School which formed the basics of his criticisms of the English public school systems. He also attended King’s College where he studied history, philosophy, and literature and got a sense of freedom in pursuing his passion. While attending King’s College he was an active participant of a group called Cambridge Conversazione Society and later a founding member of the Bloomsbury Group.

Throughout his life Forster had different types of inspirations but his first one that he lived through was his family tension. His experience at Tonbridge also gave him an understanding and was the foundation for his writing. Like I stated in the previous paragraph, he inherited money which he used to travel to Europe, Egypt, Germany, and India with the company of his mother and a classical author named Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson. On his multiple visits to India he wrote A Passage to India and Maurice. He wrote his experience in Italy in Where Angels Fear to Tread and A Room with a View. His book had the theme of either speaking on “the varying social circumstances of that time” (E.M. Forster, famousauthors) or being more of a romantic genre like for example, Howards End, which was a love story where one of two sisters marries a businessman and takes him back to a house called Howards End. Howards End was also Forster’s first successful novels, but it wasn’t his last, he is also known for A Passage to India.

Besides his writing, Forster is also known for his homosexuality though during the time he was alive it was only known by some of his close friends. He remained a bachelor throughout his life but was involved with a few men from time to time. From all the experiences with his multiple lovers, he wrote a novel named Maurice during his first visit to India in 1912. The novel was about a homosexual love and the problems that came with being a homosexual in the 20th century but was only released after his death in 1971 since at the time homosexuality was illegal. He also made a large donation to the Homosexual Law Reform Society (E.M. Forster British Library).

E.M Forster is viewed as one of the greatest of British twentieth century novelist due to his open-mind, humanist view of life, his writing on human relationships, and the need for tolerance, sympathy and love between individuals (Cambridge University Press.). Important people like Virginia Wolf also wrote in her diary, “he says the simple things that clever people don't say; I find him the best of critics for that reason” (E.M. Forster, British People) . He is still relevant today because of the romanticism and its tradition that is portrayed in his novels which have inspired other authors (E.M. Forster, Britannica). In one of his diary entries from July, 1910, E.M. Forster wrote, “However gross my desires, I find that I shall never satisfy them for the fear of annoying others. I am glad to come across this much good in me. It serves instead of purity” (A Room with a View Reader’s Guide.) This quote means that people’s opinions about his sexuality didn’t matter if he was happy which was portrayed in the novel Maurice. That idea of not caring about society’s opinion and just following your heart could be portrayed as the Romantic tradition. An example of Romanticism is seen in The Longest Journey when he expresses the importance of the idea that individual’s need to have a connection with earth because isolation is not enough. His simplistic and symbolic ways of telling a story was what made him popular to the public eye since the writing wasn’t forced and what he talked about were about his experiences. Throughout his career he obtained recognition and awards like the eight honorary degrees from the Companion of Honor in 1953, and he also obtained the Order of Merit on his 90th birthday. He got recognition in both schools he attended; the theater at Tombridge School was named after him and was voted as an honorary “Fellow” of King’s College. His fellowship allowed him to live and spend time at the college until he died.

Besides writing, Forster was also involved in a variety of things, one of them being a volunteer for the International Red Cross as a conscientious objector and served three years in Alexandria, Egypt which served as an inspiration for Alexandria. While in India in the early 20s he became the private secretary to “Tukojirao III” during the revolution. Besides his volunteer work he also worked at the BBC radio which he was also awarded the “Bensol Medal” in 1937 for his weekly book reviews during the war (E.M. Forster, thefamouspeople). He collaborated with Eric Crozieron the libretto for Benjamin Britten’s opera Billy Budd in 1951. Even though he refused permission during life and was against film or stage performance because in his point of view they didn’t do justice to books, major films were made after his death.

In conclusion, aside for his love life and novels, E.M. Forster had many more to offer which is also why he is known as one of the most influential authors of the 20th century and why he is still relevant after all those years.

Works Cited

  1. “A Room with a View by E. M. Forster.”,
  2. Beer, John Bernard. “E.M. Forster.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 3 June 2018,
  3. “E M Forster.” Humanists UK, 8 Apr. 2013,
  4. “E M Forster.” The British Library, The British Library, 28 Sept. 2015,
  5. “E.M. Forster Is Born.”, A&E Television Networks,
  6. “Home.” FAMOUS AUTHORS,
  7. “Who Is E. M. Forster? Everything You Need to Know.” Childhood, Life Achievements & Timeline,
Updated: Jan 28, 2022
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The Shapes of Life E.M. Forster. (2022, Jan 28). Retrieved from

The Shapes of Life E.M. Forster essay
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