Edward Morgan Forster's work illuminated societal shifts and class struggles within early 20th-century Great Britain, while it also empathetically portrayed intimate human relationships. His novels colorfully reflected many of the influences and travels in his own life.
Born in London on January 1, 1879, Forster's father, an architect, died in Edward's infancy. As a result, the women around him — his mother, his great aunt Marianne Thornton and others — deeply shaped Forster's formative years, and likely the portrayal of women in his later fictional worlds.
An inheritance after Thornton's death in 1887 provided an independent income and ultimately led Forster to a life of traveling and writing. An early trip to Italy and Greece with is mother offered Forster many experiences as an English tourist that later came to bear on Forster's first novel, Where Angels Fear to Tread and his third, A Room With a View, both set in Italy.
Forster's first widely recognized work Howard's End, published in 1910, told the story of several families, each representing different classes within English society. In 1912-13, Forster began working on Maurice, a novel with a homosexual theme that he circulated privately, but wasn't published until after his death.
Forster's impressions of traveling in India and its British rule led to A Passage to India, Forster's last novel. For the rest of his life, Forster wrote short stories and biographies among other works, and involved himself in literary endeavors including PEN, the worldwide association of writers. Forster died on June 7, 1970.