English novelist E. M. Forster OM, CH sadly passed away on 7th June 1970. Born 1st January 1879. He was also a short story writer, essayist and librettist. He is known best for his ironic and well-plotted novels examining class difference and hypocrisy in early 20th-century British society. Forster had a humanistic impulse toward understanding and sympathy. His 1908 novel, A Room with a View, is his most optimistic work, while A Passage to India (1924) brought him his greatest success.
His novel Howard’s End tells a story of social and familial relations in turn-of-the-century England and is generally considered to be Forster’s masterpiece. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Howards End 38th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. The book is about three families in England at the beginning of the 20th century: the Wilcoxes, rich capitalists with a fortune made in the Colonies; the half-German Schlegel siblings (Margaret, Tibby, and Helen), who have much in common with the real-life Bloomsbury Group; and the Basts, a struggling couple in the lower-middle class. The Schlegel sisters try to help the poor Basts and try to make the Wilcoxes less prejudiced. The Schlegels frequently encounter the Wilcoxes. The youngest, Helen, is attracted to the younger Wilcox brother, Paul. The eldest, Margaret, becomes friends with Paul’s mother, Ruth Wilcox. Ruth’s most prized personal possession is her family house at Howards End. She wishes that Margaret could live there, as her own husband and children do not value the house and its rich history, So Ruth, who is terminally ill, bequeaths the cottage to Margaret causing great consternation among the Wilcoxes. So Mrs Wilcox’s widowed husband, Henry, and his children decide not to tell Margaret about her inheritance.
Not knowing about the inheritance, free-spirited Margaret becomes friends with Henry Wilcox and eventually marries him. However Henry’s elder son Charles and his wife try to keep Margaret from taking possession of Howards End.On Henry’s advice, Helen tells Leonard Bast to quit his respectable job as a clerk at an insurance company, because the company stands outside a protective group of companies and thus is vulnerable to failure. Bast then loses his tenuous hold on financial solvency. and Helen tries to help young Leonard Bast (perhaps in part out of guilt about having intervened in his life to begin with). Sadly it all goes terribly wrong when it is revealed that Bast’s wife had an affair with Henry in Cyprus ten years previously but he had then carelessly abandoned her.Margaret confronts Henry about his ill-treatment, and he is ashamed of the affair but unrepentant about his harsh treatment of her. In a moment of pity for the poor, doomed Leonard Bast, Helen has an affair with him. Finding herself pregnant, she leaves England to travel through Germany to conceal her condition, but eventually returns to England when she receives news of her Aunt Juley’s illness but refuses to meet with Margaret but is tricked into a meeting at Howards End Henry and Margaret plan an intervention with a doctor, thinking Helen’s evasive behavior is a sign of mental illness. When they come upon Helen at Howards End, they also discover the pregnancy.Margaret tries in vain to convince Henry to forgive Helen. Unaware of Helen’s presence Mr. Bast arrives at Howards End wishing to speak with Margaret, whereupon Henry’s son, Charles, attacks him, and accidentally kills him, Charles is charged with manslaughter and sent to jail for three years. The ensuing scandal and shock cause Henry to reevaluate his life…
A Room with a View is about a young woman in the repressed culture of Edwardian era England. Set in Italy and England, the story is both a romance and a critique of English society at the beginning of the 20th century. Merchant-Ivory also produced an award-winning film adaptation in 1985 starring Helena Bonham-Carter, Denholm Elliot and Dame Maggie Smith. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked A Room with a View 79th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.
Forster’s most successful novel A Passage to India, on the other hand is set against the backdrop of the British Raj and the Indian independence movement in the 1920s. It was selected as one of the 100 great works of English literature by the Modern Library and won the 1924 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. Time magazine included the novel in its “100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005″. The novel is based on Forster’s experiences in India. E.M.Forster borrowed the book’s title from Walt Whitman’s poem Leaves of Grass.