Health, Sports & Psychology

A reader's guide to Howards End

Updated Sunday 1st October 2006

As tensions between Germany and England come to a head,  two families struggle to connect.

EM Forster Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC This month’s choice is a classic text by EM Forster, dating from 1910: a significant date for many reasons. Tensions between England and Germany were beginning to escalate, and Forster was also concerned about the threat to Edwardian society from urbanization and industrialization.

He depicts two families, representing different strands of the upper middle-class, with contrasting values and attitudes to life. The Schlegels are cultured, intellectual, idealistic, romantic and impractical, dedicated to ‘personal relations’ above all else. Margaret Schlegel’s philosophy is: ‘Only connect’.

On the other hand, the Wilcoxes are mostly ultra-conventional and materialistic. Mrs Wilcox is unlike her husband and children, and a deep bond is established between her and Margaret.

Forster looked back nostalgically to his childhood home, Rooksnest, which became the model for Howards End in his novel. Mrs Wilcox, the owner of Howards End, decides to leave it to Margaret when she dies.

At a time of social and economic change, Forster wonders whose set of values will prevail: those of the Schlegels or those of the Wilcox clan. The critic Lionel Trilling felt the main question posed by the novel was ‘Who shall inherit England?’

Howards End is a remarkable evocation of a particular period, and is well worth reading in its own right. However I had an additional motive in suggesting it. Zadie Smith’s On Beauty, which won this year’s Orange Prize, is a tribute to Howards End, and the plan is to read her book next month so that we can explore the parallels.

Share your views through the comments box below.

 

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?

Other content you may like

Georgina Tomlinson's story Creative commons image Icon hundreds and thousands (b&w) / CC BY-SA 2.0 under Creative-Commons license article icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

Georgina Tomlinson's story

Explore the personal side of climate change with Georgina Tomlinson's diary entry.

Article
A reader's guide to Music And Silence Creative commons image Icon Suner Keller under CC-BY-NC-SA licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

A reader's guide to Music And Silence

An imaginative tale of 17th Century Europe inspired by the real-life fairy tale spectacle of Frederiksborg.

Article
OU on the BBC: Sound of Life - Meaning of Sounds Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC article icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

OU on the BBC: Sound of Life - Meaning of Sounds

All this noise, all this chatter - but what is it all for? Aubrey tries to make sense of the meaning of sound in this programme from the BBC/OU series The Sound of Life.

Article
OU on the BBC: Alternative Therapies - Reflexology Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

OU on the BBC: Alternative Therapies - Reflexology

In the BBC/OU series Alternative Therapies, Kathy Sykes asks whether reflexology has important lessons about the value of touch in health

Article
Dementia care: Doing good or at least no harm Creative commons image Icon McBeth under CC-BY-NC-ND licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

Dementia care: Doing good or at least no harm

Family and carers often have to make difficult decisions that affect those suffering with dementia. Find out what decisions are beneficial and what is harmful in this article. 

Article
China diaries: Wang Yongchen Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: The Open University video icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

China diaries: Wang Yongchen

Wang Yongchen is a journalist at China Central TV and also founder of the NGO Green Earth Volunteer. She remembers the moment when she realised that if humans can’t live in harmony with nature, they will destroy it

Video
5 mins
A reader's guide to Middlemarch Copyright free image Icon Copyright free: Public domain article icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

A reader's guide to Middlemarch

A change in suffrage was about to take the nation in a new direction. George Eliot set out to capture the spirit of her times.

Article
How do we measure personality? Creative commons image Icon Kat B photography under CC-BY-NC licence under Creative-Commons license video icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

How do we measure personality?

 An agreed framework is vital for measuring personality, says Brendan Burchell.

Video
5 mins
World Cup weight of expectation Creative commons image Icon Daniele Zanni under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

World Cup weight of expectation

How does anxiety and the weight of expectation influence the performance of professional athletes?

Article