About this site & its maintainer


Who is Forster?

 ~ by Forster
 ~ about Forster
 ~ inspired by Forster

Selected quotes

Film adaptations

Why Forsterites are Forsterites

About this site & its maintainer


Links to other sites

Okay, before you continue on, here are some basic yet important facts about this site and about me:

First and foremost: I am not an authority on E. M. Forster, and I don't claim to be one. I simply love and admire much of Forster's work, especially Howards End (more on that later). I "discovered" Forster my second year in high school, and have been a fan ever since. I say this because I receive many e-mails asking for help on a paper someone is writing (or should be writing). Actually, one recent e-mailer said she was disappointed in my "extensive" knowledge and sarcastically thanked me for nothing. Obviously, she did not read the above statement.

Second: This site is not intended to be the "be all, end all" of Forster sites. Creating and updating these pages was and is a labor of love for me. I just hope the site will be of some use to not just Forsterites, but anyone out there curious about Forster. I don't get paid to do this, just like many people who also run "fan" or "tribute" pages.

As for the Only Connect Shop -- any commissions I end up earning will only help support this site: slightly defraying the cost of my ISP, host and e-mail, for example. Currently on average, the commissions add up to about US$7 every year. Which means that it takes at least three years to even get a check. So if you bookmark the Shop page and buy all your Amazon stuff from the links there, I would really appreciate it. Please help keep this site free and bannerless! You can also send a donation to help out with costs.

How the 'Only Connect' site got started

  • This is in fact the first Forster resource to appear on the Web. In October 1995, when I discovered that there were no other sites dedicated to him and/or his work, I decided to jump in and contribute what I could to remedy that situation. This lack of material about EMF on the Web was what initially prompted me to learn HTML and put up a page in the first place; then I horribly neglected my original intentions regarding the Forster site (which initially began as a part of my personal home page) and focused my Web development on other projects. In the summer of 1996, I realized that I should return to creating a better, separate EMF site and began to remodel and write for it.
  • The 'Only Connect' site first appeared on a Geocities server in October 1995 (actually, back then it was called Geopages), where it remained for almost four years. From May 1997 until August 1999, I again neglected to update the site, but I moved the site to a new server in the summer of 2000 and re-committed myself to maintaining it.
  • From around April to July 2001, I ran into some server problems and the site was unavailable during that time. I've since moved the site (again) to a new domain and server (musicandmeaning.com), where hopefully it will remain for a long, long time.

What is the deal with "Only connect"? What does it mean?

I chose 'Only Connect' as the title for this site because of (1) its recognition factor and strong relationship to E. M. Forster, (2) I appreciate the idea(s) behind the phrase, and (3) on a more literal level, it conveniently (punningly?) can refer to the principle of the Web.

"Only connect" appears more than once in Forster's novel, Howards End. Some people have e-mailed me, asking what exactly the phrase means. There are a few interpretations that have been bandied about; however, for now I'll provide a short explanation of context and let you decide. It's tough to make an interpretation without reading the novel and understanding what's going on, but anyway...

The exact wording, "Only connect..." (with the ellipsis) actually first appears all by itself on its own page, following the title page and preceding Chapter 1. After this instance, Forster employs the phrase when speaking of the relationship between Margaret and Henry, two main characters in the novel. Here are two very short extracts from Howards End:

    "Mature as he was, she might yet be able to help him to the building of the rainbow bridge that should connect the prose in us with the passion. Without it we are meaningless fragments, half monks, half beasts, unconnected arches that have never joined into a man. With it love is born, and alights on the highest curve, glowing against the gray, sober against the fire."
    [From Chapter 22. "He" is Henry, "she" is Margaret.]

    "Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die."
    [From Chapter 22, a little later on. The "her" is Margaret. The "beast and the monk" refers to the text mentioned just above.]

More about my interest in Forster

Howards End
Okay, I've just got to get this out of the way: Howards End is, without doubt, my favorite of the Forster novels I have read. It possesses a certain quality -- words do not do justice here -- that encompasses a wide spectrum of feelings. Howards End inspires, angers, surprises, pleases, confuses and saddens. It engages me so that I too feel the sorrow, the frustration, the hopelessness, the delightfulness, the ridiculousness. I would say that buying Howards End and A Room with a View (in one volume) for less than $6 was one of the best things I have ever done in my life. Indeed, for such a thing, $6 is cheap. ;-)

The same can be said of the film, although I must admit that the two different genres have their own special qualities -- but both present the same story quite well. The 1992 Merchant-Ivory production of the novel is my favorite movie; hopefully I will have some sort of material dedicated to it in the future.

I can be a pretty picky person, depending on what it is you're talking about. In the case of EMF, there's probably really only one thing that can drive me nuts: when Howards End is spelled as "Howard's End." I really don't mind that much when the mistake is made by people who haven't read the novel, but when someone claims h/she "loved the book" and "read it three or four times" or some such instance, I get really annoyed when the person then proceeds to spell it with an extra apostrophe. Let me just clarify this for everyone who isn't familiar with it: Howards End is an estate name, as it was fashionable in those days to name your property (e.g. Wuthering Heights, Lowick, Thornfield). The novel is not about anyone named Howard, nor about the end or death of Howard.

Moving on . . .
I hadn't even heard of Forster until the summer after my freshman year in high school. I knew about the film "A Passage to India" from my father, who was a fan of David Lean pictures, and I'd seen bits and pieces of "A Room with a View" on PBS while channel-surfing on the telly; but I had no clue that they were both from the mind of EMF. And what's more, when I was first exposed to them, they didn't interest me. Hey, they were lavish period dramas, and to me as a 12- or 13-year-old kid, they were boring. So at that time, if you'd asked me about A Passage to India, I'd have said "Yeah, that's a David Lean movie." And if you'd asked me about A Room with a View, I'd have said "Yeah, I think that's one of those boring, long dramas about English people."

Little did I know then.

For me, finding Forster when I did was pivotal in my life. It may sound overdramatic, but I think it's very true. I credit him for influencing and developing my taste in literature (and, indirectly, film); his work certainly played a large part in my decision to major in English in college. Maybe you don't like period pieces, or dramatic, sweeping movies that, to you, concentrate more on the costume design than the storytelling. Everyone's entitled to his/her own tastes. But that doesn't necessarily mean that you're totally ignorant of EMF. Try looking through the site, and you might be surprised to find that you do indeed have a connection to Forster's works.

Have questions, comments or just want to say hi? Feel free to contact me by e-mail. I welcome all reactions and queries regarding this site or E. M. Forster.

If you would like a Web site designed or would like some input on how to make an existing one better suited in terms of usability, I'm available for freelance work. Just send me a line. I'd love to work with fellow Forsterites.

Thanks for reading this. :-) If, for some reason, you'd like to learn more about me, try visiting my home page.

-- Jennifer

Site disclaimer

Created 18 January 1996 and last modified 14 June 2004, 00:54 PST.
'Only Connect': The Unofficial E. M. Forster Site <http://www.musicandmeaning.com/forster/maintainer.html>