New 'Howards End' begins Sunday 12 November

Rooksnest, the house that inspired 'Howard's End'.
Rooksnest, the house that inspired 'Howard's End'. The wych-elm is at the left of the photo.

The first episode of BBC's lavish new production of EM Forster's favourite novel airs this Sunday, 12 November at 9 PM on BBC1. A star-studded cast includes Hayley Atwell as Margaret Schlegel, Matthew Macfadyen as Henry Wilcox, Tracey Ullman as Aunt Juley Mund, Julia Ormond as Ruth Wilcox and Philippa Coulthard as Helen Schlegel. The script, by BAFTA- and Oscar-winning Kenneth Lonergan, is quite faithful to the original novel by Kingsman EM Forster.

EM (Morgan) Forster came up to King's College in 1897, getting his BA in Classics. He stayed for a fourth year and read history.

Because Morgan's father died in Morgan's first year, Morgan was raised by a bevy of women who reflected all the social levels examined in 'Howard's End'. His early years were spent at Rooksnest, a country house near Stevenage in Hertfordshire, which he remembered fondly and which he had in mind when writing his novel 'Howards End'.

The story in 'Howard's End' of the Miss Schlegels and their brother having to move from the house they grew up in was one close to Forster's heart. Morgan's father, EML Forster, was an architect who had designed a house for his sister Laura (West Hackhurst at Abinger Hammer in Surrey) into which Morgan and his mother moved in 1925. When his mother died in 1945 the landlord declined to renew the lease. The house, though inherited by Forster, was on land held as leasehold and he had to move, which he found very difficult. King's College offered him a permanent home here as an Honorary Fellow and he lived the last years of his life at King's.

UK residents can hear Kenneth Lonergan's interview with BBC Radio 4: Front Row which aired on Monday, at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09cvwx7. The interview starts at 00:56.

10 November 2017