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Howards End by E. M. Forster - LSC Kingwood

E.M. Forster's cottage.  Used with permission from Suzi Patterson, at UT Austin Star College-Kingwood Library
Assignment Guide

Forster won many awards and was given the Order of Merit by Queen Elizabeth II in 1969. His reputation was developed and strengthened during the Edwardian years. His greatest recognition came after WWII, when he had almost completely ceased writing fiction. Among the strengths of his writing styles are: his ability to create characters and situations of great human significance; his speculative power; and his qualities as a serious moralist with great ability as a perceptive realist in displaying the Edwardian and post war society. A time which was important to his early life was his residence at Rooksnest, in Hertfordshire. He developed a love for the English countryside, and Rooksnest became a model for Howards End (1910). While at Cambridge, he became a member of a group called the Cambridge Conversazione Society. This group discussed moral, intellectual, and aesthetic issues. Many of the members later formed the Bloomsbury Group in London. Here, Forster was influenced by the writings of G. E. Moore who strongly felt that the most satisfying states were those coming from aesthetic experiences and personal relationships. Forster felt a strong affinity with many of the values of the Bloomsbury group, such as friendship, speculative discussion, persistent questioning of convention, agnosticism, and advocacy of social change, appreciation of the innovative in the arts, and a testing of moral values. These values are dramatized vividly in Howards End (the Schlegel sisters).

General Background Information: Charleston Farmhouse, home and meeting place of the writers, painters and intellectuals know as the Bloomsbury Group

Time: Early Twentieth Century

Locale: English countryside


  • Margaret Schlegel - Helen and Tibby Schlegel's older sister 
  • Helen Schlegel- Margaret's beautiful sister
  • Tibby Schlegel- younger brother to Margaret and Helen
  • Mrs. Munt- Margaret, Helen, and Tibby's aunt
  • Henry Wilcox- the patriarch of the Wilcox family and British businessman
  • Ruth Wilcox- Henry's first wife and owner of Howards End
  • Charles, Paul, Evie- Henry's children
  • Leonard and Jacky Bast- poor young clerk and his wife

Topics to consider:

  • English society at the close of the Edwardian era
  • Emotion versus pragmatism
  • The strong bond between sisters
  • Country houses as images of cultural unity
  • Culture versus materialism
  • The relationship between Germany and England at the time of the novel


Howards End depicts the life and manners of the upper middle class that Forster knew from his own life. He portrayed the shortcomings as well as the amenities of society along side the frequent trivialities he saw. He felt that people need not be static even when a society was. A sincere individual could still achieve a morality above what his surroundings might seem to permit. In Howards End, Forster is "preoccupied with the well-being of an entire society. He not only analyzed the various strata of the British upper class, he also showed that even a sincere individual would encounter great difficulty in acquiring wholeness in the fractured modern age". (DLB, v. 34, p. 131)

The primary character in Howards End is Margaret Schlegel. She and her sister, Helen, and brother Tibby, represent the middle level of middle class society, independent, but not wealthy. Henry Wilcox, whom Margaret eventually marries, and his family represent the upper level of the middle class. Two other characters of importance are Leonard and Jacky Bast, who live in genteel poverty.

Margaret tries to bridge the upper and lower levels of the middle class. Her practical abilities, inner strength and emotional perceptiveness enable her to appreciate the Wilcoxes and, at the same time, strive for a finer life, which she perceives can only be found from enjoying an emotionally whole life experience.

Howards End represents a fusion of social realism and poetic symbolism. Forster comments on the contradictions, complexities and paradoxes of human experience.


Librarian Talk . . .  About Books!
  • Books offer helpful information about time periods, authors and the literary works. Use them to help begin your review of literature on Howards End .
  • Visit the Circulation Desk in the library to obtain your Student id/Library Card.  Use your card to 1) Place a Hold on a book and have it sent to the library closest to you; 2) Access journal and reference databases from home; and 3) Access Online e-Books (EBSCOhost eBook Collection).  Use the barcode number from your Lone Star Student id/Library Card to log in from off campus.  Create a free account to save favorite titles or personal notes on the books you read.  Search for specific words or characters within e-books. 
  • The library catalog is online.  To find circulating books, search under keywords for Howards End or E.M. Forster.
  • More about...Finding Books (31 sec.)


DA 550.T53 1988 - The Rise of Respectable Society: A Social History of Victorian Britain 1830 -1900. By:  F.M.L. Thompson

HQ 1593.J34 1988 - Women, Marriage and Politics 1860 - 1914.  By:  Patricia Jalland

PR6011.O58 H6 1997b - Howard's End - complete, authoritative text with biographical and historical contexts, critical history, and essays from five contemporary critical perspectives. Editor:  Alistair Duckworth.

Electronic Books - Over 40,000 books are available by accessing the eBook Collection.  From off campus, you will need the barcode number from your Student id/Library card to access e-books. 


PN 771.C59 - Contemporary Literary Criticism - CLC contains excerpts from critical essays in books and journals.  Use these volumes to 1) select a topic or theme 2) find the full articles or essay in the library, and 3) locate other articles and books from the "Further Reading" section.  Also available in the online database, Literature Resource Center - Note: Use the barcode number from your current Lone Star College ID or library card to login from off-campus.  

PR 106.S7 vol. 3 - Reference Guide to English Literature - Critical and biographical information with excellent bibliographies. Includes a separate discussion of Howards End. Events of the time Edwardian period: A time of great change, sometimes depicted as an idealistic period of English history - a time of order and harmony, but in reality it was a time of social and political strife. The Irish nationalists, the labor unions, and the suffragettes were all demanding that their problems and agendas be addressed. The Boer War (1899 - 1902) in South Africa divided the country much like the Vietnam War did in a later time in the United States. England was becoming increasingly urbanized and the poverty in the cities was appalling. As the need for such social reforms as old age pensions, workmen's compensation, the vote for women, and unemployment and health insurance became the focus of government policy, the resultant increase in taxes on the wealthy brought conflict between the old wealthy, privileged classes and the poorer, working class.

PR 473.T84 1985 vol. 2 -  20th Century British Literature - Excerpts of literary criticism of the novel.

PN 164.A85 The Atlas of Literature - Beautifully illustrated, this book has an excellent discussion of the Bloomsbury group which included E. M. Forster, Vanessa and Clive Bell, Virginia Woolf, Lytton Strachey, Roger Fry, Duncan Grant, and many others at various times.


 Librarian Talk about Finding Journal Articles!

Electronic databases are purchased by the libraries for your research use. Use them to find articles in newspapers and journals, letters, reference books, illustrations, photographs and more. Home access to article databases is available with your updated library card barcode. If you need assistance finding an article contact the Reference Librarians and they will see that you get the article. They will need full bibliographic information - and your name and address. Send your phone number as well, so they can contact you if necessary. Use your library card to login to these online journal databases.

More about searching databases (25 sec.)

Literature Resource Center - This database is a good place to start if you are choosing a thesis or topic to research. It includes journal articles, critical essays, work overviews & summaries, and author biographies from authoritative sources.    

JSTOR Arts & Sciences Use the Advanced Search page for the best results.  Uncheck the box next to "Include links to external content" to retrieve complete articles.  Enter search terms such as the title of the novel, the author's last name, and keywords from your thesis.  Put search terms in separate boxes.  Limit your search to Articles, and choose the discipline Language & Literature to focus your results. Because this database is entirely scholarly, articles are of the appropriate academic level.

Project MUSE -  For best results use the Advanced Search page.  Enter the title of the work in one search box, the author's last name in the second search box. Add a row, and enter keywords from your thesis. Limit your search to Articles Only (No reviews) and choose the discipline Literature.  This will focus your results to articles closely tied to your thesis.  This database is entirely scholarly. Search results will be articles of the appropriate academic level.

Academic Search Complete - (EBSCOhost) Multi-disciplinary database; Limit to full text and scholarly or peer reviewed for appropriate results. 


Librarian Talk about the Internet!

The internet can be a wonderful source of original documents. Browse the sites we have suggested below. Remember, you DO want to find reputable sites. Evaluate for:

  • Accuracy - The information should be researched and show proof of that research.
  • Source - Look at the domain:  .edu   .gov   .org  .net are valid research sources.
  • Authority - What are the author's credentials? (Don't quote from another college student's paper.)
  • Coverage - Does the page have the information you need for your research?
  • Objectivity - If a work is biased, you may use it - just make sure your professor knows YOU know. Offer both sides of issues, where applicable.
More about finding internet sources (25 sec.)

Aspects of  E.M. Forester | You will find criticism, summaries ,and photographs at this site.

Only Connect | The unofficial Forster site.

Pharos: E. M. Foster  | website on E. M. Forster by Rob Doll, Ph.D.

 Librarian Talk about getting help!

Support for a successful paper is more than finding the right resources. Putting it all together takes time and effort. Sometimes it takes additional help from the librarians or tutors. Please consider the following resources if you need additional help. Remember, the expert on the assignment is your professor!

More about getting help (25 sec.)

Citing Sources Using MLA Style | Lone Star College-Kingwood Library guide. Examples of both paper and electronic citations.

Avoiding Plagiarism  |   Excellent information and guide on how to avoid plagiarism from the Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University.

University of Texas Copyright Crash Course | This helpful guide on intellectual property is suggested by Lone Star College-Kingwood Teaching and Learning Center. 

The Learning Center   |   Check the TLC hours for in-house tutoring.

Page by Becky Bradley and Bettye Sutton. Checked  6/5/2012 SM/JFR

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