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Meredith helped Forster become a member of the “Apostles,” the university’s foremost discussion group, where he formed friendships with many of the intellectuals later associated with the Bloomsbury group in London.In 1901, with his formal education over and uncertain about a career, Forster, accompanied by Lily, set off on a year-long trip to Italy to study Italian history, language, art, and literature, and to work on a novel-in-progress.
INTRODUCTION“The more people one knows, the easier it is to replace them. I quite expect to end my life caring most for a place.”The place that E. Forster loved so deeply that he made it the centerpiece of one of his best-loved novels was a country house just north of London called Rooksnest. that I would live and die there.” Much more than just a house, for Forster, Rooksnest came to represent English country values—a connection to place, a respect for individuality, and a commitment to the contemplative life—that were increasingly threatened by the urbanization and industrialization sweeping Edwardian England.
From the moment he moved in with his mother at age four, “I took it to my heart and hoped . Forster’s childhood idyll was to last only ten years, for at fourteen he moved with his mother to the newly fashionable bourgeois suburb of Tonbridge Wells, home to many members of the growing business class that would become a central concern of his fiction.
More importantly, he was starting to understand the practicality of conformist values, of “social conventions, economic trend, efficiency,” and he grew acutely aware of the limitations of liberal ideals.
The Bloomsbury group’s sitting-room debates and fashionable walking-parties were for Forster too narrow, too disdainful of the economic and material conditions that made their way of life possible.
During 19 Forster journeyed to India, beginning a lifelong fascination with the subcontinent.
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A return journey to India in 1921 provided the inspiration for A Passage to India (1924), which was hailed as a masterpiece on publication. King’s College awarded Forster an honorary fellowship in 1946, and he spent the rest of his years in Cambridge.
With the guidance and encouragement of his classics professor, Forster grew to admire the modern European writers Tolstoy, Proust, and Ibsen, and began to test his own powers as a writer.
It was during these years, too, that he first began to acknowledge his homosexuality, falling in love with another undergraduate, H. Meredith, who would be the center of his posthumously published novel Maurice (finished in 1914).
It is known that the outline for the book crystallized sometime in 1908, about two years after Forster made a trip to the countryside to spend time with the Postens, an oddly matched stockbroker and his clever, cultured second wife who provided the immediate model for the relationship between Henry and Margaret.
In a journal entry of February 1910, Forster wrote, “Am grinding out my novel into a contrast between money and death—the latter is truly an ally of the personal against the mechanical.” Clearly the advancing machine age was at the forefront of Forster’s consciousness at the time.