E.M. Forster’s later years are something of a riddle. After publishing five novels, including the classics A Passage to India and Howards End, Forster stopped writing fiction at the age of 45. He lived quietly for another 46 years and continued to write essays, short biographies and literary journalism — but no more novels.
The issues behind it are complicated, says Forster in this excerpt from a 1958 BBC interview. “But I think one of the reasons why I stopped writing novels,” he says, “is that the social aspect of the world changed so very much. I’d been accustomed to write about the old vanished world with its homes and its family life and its comparative peace. All of that went. And though I can think about it I cannot put it into fiction form.”
At the time of the interview Forster was an honorary fellow at King’s College, Cambridge, where he lived the final 24 years of his life. He speaks of his life at Cambridge, and of his own limitations as a writer, with a sincerity and humanity that readers will recognize from his books.