Edward Morgan Forster was born on January 1, 1879, in London, into an upper middle class family. His father, an architect, died two years later, and the young Forster was raised by his mother and his great aunt. These women remained influential over Forster for much of his life, which sheds some light on his preference for strong female characters in his novels.
Forster graduated from King's College, Cambridge, in 1901 and resolved to pursue his writing. He traveled in Italy and Greece with his mother, and worked as a tutor in Germany in 1905. In the same year he published his first novel, Where Angels Fear to Tread. The Longest Journey (1907) and A Room with a View (1908) soon followed. Forster wrote the first half of A Room with a View during a stay in Italy with his mother. The novel shows his support for the new, liberal social behaviors of the Edwardian age, in contrast to the more sober ideals prevalent during Queen Victoria's reign. Even in his early work, Forster's style distinguished itself as lighter and more conversational in diction than the English novelists who preceded him. His critical yet sympathetic views of people and their interactions marked him as a master of character and societal analysis. In 1910, his novel Howard's End was published to great public acclaim. A Passage to India (1924) was published in 1924, and is known as his most complex and mature work.
The years between the turn of the century and World War I were an optimistic time for England. As liberal Edwardian ideals slowly moved in over the old Victorian ways, a general optimism began to prevail, manifested in the belief that man might be made better through a more liberal education. Throughout his life, Forster stressed the importance of individuality and good will, emphasizing his belief in humanity's potential for self-improvement. Forster became an active member of a movement of writers and thinkers known as the Bloomsbury Group, a number of intellectuals defined in part tby their radical opposition to Victorian traditions and manners. Included among the other members of the group were Virginia Woolf and John Maynard Keynes.
Cambridge offered Forster a fellowship in 1946, and he remained there until his death on June 7, 1970. He accepted an Order of Merit in 1969. Along with his novels, Forster also published short stories, essays, and the famous critical work, Aspects of the Novel. He also collaborated with Eric Crozier on the libretto to the opera Billy Budd, Sailor, composed by Benjamin Britten. His novel Maurice, about a homosexual man, was published, according to his wishes, after his death, in 1971.