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E. M. Forster:

An Inventory of His Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Creator: Forster, E. M. (Edward Morgan), 1879-1970
Title: E. M. Forster Collection
Dates: 1908-1971
Extent: 6 boxes (2.5 linear feet) and 1 galley folder
Absract: This collection comprises correspondence, primarily with J.R. Ackerley and Malcolm Darling, and drafts of literary works, notably Passage to India.
RLIN Record #: TXRC98-A22
Language: English.
Access:

Open for research. This collection has been microfilmed.




Acquisition:

Purchases, 1960-1981 (R16, R594, R2030, R3082, R3730, R3731, R5180, 55463, R8497, R8509-12, R9084)

Processed by:

Chelsea Jones, 1998

Repository:

Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin


Edward Morgan Forster was born January 1, 1879, in London. His father, also Edward Morgan, was an architect and died of consumption 18 months after the birth of his son, leaving him in the care of his mother, Alice Clara Whichelo and a variety of female relatives. Forster's mother moved with her young son to rural Hertfordshire in 1883 where he lived for most of his childhood before being sent to Kent House preparatory school in Eastbourne. In 1887 a great-aunt left a legacy to Forster which, when combined with his father's estate, paid for Forster's education and later allowed him the leisure to be a writer without needing to worry about income. Forster finished his school days at Tonbridge School, which he attended as a day student rather than as a boarder between 1893-1897.

In the autumn of 1897, Forster entered King's College, Cambridge, where he found liberation from the conformist attitudes of preparatory school. He was elected to the Apostles in 1901, along with Desmond MacCarthy, and became acquainted with the well-known alumni of that society, G.E. Moore, Lytton Strachey, John Maynard Keynes, Leonard Woolf, and Roger Fry, among others, who later introduced him into the Bloomsbury group. It was at Cambridge that Forster began to think of himself as a writer and the years immediately following his graduation were his most productive as a novelist. Between 1903 and 1910 he produced Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905), The Longest Journey (1907), A Room with a View (1908), and Howards End (1910), all four of which are now regarded as classics.

After 1910 Forster wrote mostly short stories and essays. He also traveled, taking a long trip to India in 1912 and spending a greater part of World War I in Egypt working with the Red Cross. A travel guide to Alexandria and a collection of essays resulted from his time in Egypt and after his second trip to India in 1921 he completed A Passage to India (1924). Forster's final novel, Maurice (1971) was actually written in 1914 and then frequently revised after 1924, but was not published until after his death. This novel deals with the topic of homosexuality and is thought to be at least partly autobiographical.

After World War I Forster wrote an increasing number of essays on the human condition and more specifically on the state of life in England and the value of democracy, which the onset of the Depression, Nazism, and the impending crisis of World War II seemed to be threatening. His essays brought him a great deal of public notice and in 1934 he was elected president of the National Council for Civil Liberties. He is given credit for playing a large role in having the provisions of the Sedition Bill modified. When World War II broke out, Forster returned to his mother's home in West Hackhurst.

After the war, Forster accepted a fellowship at Cambridge where he maintained a residence for the rest of his life. He began to gain international acclaim after 1945 and wrote copiously through the early 1960s. He suffered a stroke in 1964 and another one the following year which caused his overall health to decline. He suffered a major stroke in May of 1970 and on June 7 he died at the home of friends.


Dictionary of Literary Biography -- Volume 48: British Novelists, 1890-1929: Traditionalists. Thomas F. Staley, Ed. (Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1985).

Who's Who in Bloomsbury. Alan and Veronica Palmer. (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987).


Manuscripts of novels and letters to friends and acquaintances comprise the bulk of the E. M. Forster Collection, 1908-1971. The collection is organized into three series, with materials arranged alphabetically by title or author: I. Works, 1910-1960 (2 boxes); II. Correspondence, 1908-1967 (3.5 boxes); and III. Works by Other Authors, 1933-1971 (.5 box). This collection was previously accessible through a card catalog, but has been re-cataloged as part of a retrospective conversion project.

The Works Series contains several holograph drafts of essays on topics ranging from liberty to tolerance, and three holograph manuscripts of A Passage to India, two of which are fairly complete and are extensively edited by the author, while the third is composed primarily of earlier draft material and represents about one-third of the novel's length. Also contained in the collection is a copy of The Longest Journey on microfilm, made from the original manuscript held at the Cambridge University King's College Library, the primary repository for Forster's papers.

The Correspondence Series is particularly interesting as it is almost exclusively composed of personal letters from Forster to various friends and acquaintances. The series is organized into two sections, Outgoing Correspondence, 1908-1967, and Third-party Correspondence, 1925-1937. Outgoing correspondence comprises over 800 letters from Forster to J. R. Ackerley, Morgan's friend and confidante, and over 200 letters to Malcolm Darling, another close friend. Also represented among the recipients of letters are Dora Carrington, Francis King, John Lehmann, Colin Spencer, and others. The Third-party section contains a scant handful of personal letters between people other than Forster. All correspondents in this series are listed in the Index of Correspondents in this guide.

The Works by Other Authors Series contains a small number of writings by other people. Included is a list of the Cambridge University, King's College Library's collection of Forster's papers, a biographical pamphlet about Forster written by Rex Warner, and the Memorandum of Agreement between Albatross Verlag and Forster for publication of A Passage to India. Galley proofs for W. Heffer & Sons Ltd.'s Heffer Catalogue Seven, prepared for the sale of Forster's collection of books after his death, are also included. Elsewhere in the Ransom Center are five photographs of Forster located in the Literary Files of the Photography Collection and one Vertical File of newspaper clippings about Forster and his work.


Other materials associated with Forster may be found in the following collections at the Ransom Center:

  • Aitken, Webster Craig Alec
  • Blunden, Edmund Charles
  • Brooke, Jocelyn
  • Church, Richard
  • Connolly, Cyril
  • Cunard, Nancy
  • Downing, Robert
  • Duncan, Ronald Frederick Henry
  • Garnett, Edward
  • Harpers Magazine
  • Hutchinson, Mary
  • Lehmann, John
  • London Magazine
  • Lowndes, Marie Adelaide
  • Maugham, William Somerset
  • Morrell, Ottoline, Lady
  • Murry, John Middleton
  • Nehls, Edward
  • P.E.N.
  • Priestley, John Boynton
  • Prokosch, Frederic
  • Scott-James, Rolfe Arnold
  • Sitwell, Edith, Dame
  • Strong, Leonard Alfred George
  • Tomlinson, Henry Major


Correspondents

Ackerley, J.R. (Joe Randolph), 1896-1967.

Carrington, Dora de Houghton, 1893-1932.

Darling, Malcolm Lyell, Sir, 1880-1969.

Lehmann, John, 1907- .

Prokosch, Frederic, 1906- .

Spencer, Colin.

Subjects

Bloomsbury Group.

Places

England--Fiction.

England--Social life and customs.

India--Social conditions.

Document Types

Galley proofs.

Postcards.