Howards End

Version: Unabridged
Author: E.M. Forster
Narrator: Nadia May
Genres: Fiction & Literature, Classics
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Published In: June 2007
# of Units: 9 CDs
Length: 11 hours
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In this vibrant portrait of Edwardian England and the many intricacies of class relations in English society during the turn of the century, two families with conflicting values are brought together by an inheritance dispute over a charming country house called Howards End. Sisters Margaret and Helen Schlegel and their brother Tibby place their values in civilized culture, music, literature, and conversation with their friends. Henry Wilcox and his children, Charles, Paul, and Evie, are concerned with the business side of life and distrust emotions and imagination. Through a series of romantic entanglements, disappearing wills, and sudden tragedy, the conflict over the house emerges as a symbolic struggle for England's very future.
Regarded by many as Forster's masterpiece, Howards End concerns the nature of class and social status and how they affect one's relationships and well-being-for better or for worse.

Author Details

Author Details

Forster, E.M.

"Edward Morgan Forster was born the first day of 1879 in London. His father, an architect from a strict evangelical family, died of consumption soon after Forster was born, thus Forster was raised by his mother and paternal great-aunt. Since his mother was from a more liberal and somewhat irresponsible background, Forster was raised in a household that exposed him to great domestic tension. Forster was raised at Rooksnest, the house that inspired Howards End. Forster was educated as a dayboy at the Tonbridge School, Kent, an experience responsible for a good deal of his later criticism of the English public school system. Forster attended college at King's College, Cambridge, which greatly broaded his intellectual interests and gave him his first exposure to Mediterranean culture, which counterbalanced the more rigid English culture in which he was raised.

Forster became a writer shortly after graduating from King's College. His first novels were products of that particular time, stories about the changing social conditions at the decline of Victorianism. However, where these earlier works differed from Forster's contemporaries is their more colloquial style. These novels established an early conviction of Forster that men and women should keep in contact with the land to cultivate their imaginations. He developed this theme in his first novels, Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905) and The Longest Journey (1907). Forster followed these with A Room With a View (1908), a comic novel concerning the experience of a young British woman, Lucy Honeychurch, in Italy.

Forster's first major success, however, was Howards End (1910), a novel dealing with the alliance between the liberal Schlegel sisters and Ruth Wilcox, the proprietor of the titular house, against her husband, Henry Wilcox, an enterprising businessman. The ends with the marriage of Henry Wilcox to Margaret Schlegel, who brings him back to Howards End, reestablishing this link to the Wilcox land. During this time, Forster was part of the Bloomsbury Group, a set of unconventional bohemian thinkers in England that included Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, Dora Carrington and Lytton Strachey.

Forster spent three wartime years in Alexandria doing civilian work and visited India twice. After he returned to England, he wrote A Passage to India (1924), inspired by his experience in India. The novel concerns the colonial occupation of India by the British, but cedes its position as a political tract to explore the friendship between an Indian doctor and British schoolmaster during the former's trial on a false charge. This novel was the last that Forster published during his lifetime, but two other works remain. Forster did not complete another novel, Arctic Summer, while a second novel written around 1914, Maurice, was published in 1971 only after Forster's death. Forster only allowed it to be published after his death because of its overt homosexual theme.

Although Forster published no novels after A Passage to India, he continued to write short stories and essays until his death in 1970. He published several anthologies, including The Celestial Omnibus (1914) and The Eternal Moment (1928), two collections of short stories, Abinger Harvest (1936), a collection of poetry, essays and fiction, and several non-fiction works. Forster also wrote the libretto to the Benjamin Britten opera ""Billy Budd."" The essays by Forster as well as his frequent lecture son political topics established his reputation as a liberal thinker and strong advocate of democracy. Forster was awarded membership in the Order of Companions of Honor in 1953 and received the Order of Merit from Queen Elizabeth in 1969. He died in June of 1970 after a series of strokes.