What makes this masterpiece a pure delight for contemporary readers is its vibrant portrait of life in Edwardian England, and the wonderful characters who inhabit the charming old country house in Hertfordshire called Howards End. This cozy house becomes the object of an inheritance dispute between the upright conservative Wilcox family and the Schlegel sisters, Margaret and Helen, sensitive and intuitive women loved by men willing to leap wide social barriers to fulfill their ardor. Through romantic entanglements, disappearing wills, and sudden tragedy, the conflict over the house emerges as a symbolic struggle for Englandís future. Rich with the tradition, spirit, and wit distinctively English, Howards End is a remarkable novel of rare insight and understanding. As in his celebrated A Passage to India, E. M. Forster brings to vivid life a country and an era through the destinies of his unforgettable characters.
Edward Morgan Forster was born January 1, 1879 in London and was raised from infancy by his mother and paternal aunts after his father's death. Forsterís boyhood experiences at the Tonbridge School, Kent were an unpleasant contrast to the happiness he found at home, and his suffering left him with an abiding dislike of the English public school system. At Kingís College, Cambridge, however he was able to pursue freely his varied interests in philosophy, literature and Mediterranean civilization, and he soon determined to devote his life to writing.
His first two novels, Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905) and The Longest Journey (1907), were both poorly received, and it was not until the publication of Howards End, in 1910, that Forster achieved his first major success as a novelist, with the work many considered his finest creation.
Forster first visited India during 1912 and 1913, and after three years as a noncombatant in Alexandria, Egypt, during World War I and several years in England, he returned for an extended visit in 1921. From those experiences came his most celebrated novel, A Passage to India, his darkest and most probing work and perhaps the best novel about India written by a foreigner.
As a man of letters , Forster was honored during and after World War II for his resistance to any and all forms of tyranny and totalitarianism, and Kingís College awarded him a permanent fellowship in 1949. Forster spent his later years at Cambridge writing and teaching, and died at Coventry, England, on June 7, 1970. His novel, Maurice, written several decades earlier, was published posthumously in 1971.
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