Alan Hollinghurst, 3 January 2013
Forster was an only child whose father died when he was one, and he was raised by his mother in an atmosphere thick with aunts. It’s a milieu he turns to his advantage in his fiction, where the middle-class female world is observed with a tone that Cyril Connolly described as ‘demure malice’. Such a resource wasn’t available for his day to day dealings with Lily Forster, a figure whose presence permeates these volumes long after she is dead. When he rapidly made a name for himself as a writer Lily seemed underwhelmed. ‘Mother bored by my literary successes,’ he notes after Howards End was published in 1910.