First Edition: A Passage to India

EM Forster was born in 1879 and was the author of a number of hugely successful novels. Many were turned into films including Where Angels Fear to Tread [1991], Room with a View [1985] and Howards End [1992]. A Passage to India was his last, and most successful novel, but he was to live on. He died in 1970 at the age of 91. This portrait [below] of Forster by Dora Carrington is dated 1924.

This hardback first edition [above] is one of the rare examples which still has its dust jacket. Published in 1924 by London Edward Arnold & Co, it is now worth £9,750 at rare bookseller Peter Harrington.

The story
Set in the context of India during the British Raj of the 1920s, with the growing Indian independence movement, A Passage to India tells the story of four key characters: Dr Aziz, Cyril Fielding, Mrs Moore and Miss Adela Quested. Aziz is garrulous and naive, Adela something of a prig. During a trip to the Malabar Caves, Adela finds herself alone in a cave with Mr Aziz. She panics and flees. The assumption is made that Aziz assaulted her. The story of his subsequent trial examines the racial tensions and prejudices between the Indians and the British rulers.

The film EM ForsterThe 1984 film, directed by David Lean, featured Alec Guinness, Dame Peggy Ashcroft and Victor Banerjee. It won two Oscars: Dame Peggy Ashcroft [Mrs Moore], Best Actress in a Supporting Role; and Maurice Jarre for Best Music, Original Score.

Watch the official film trailer here.








The current UK edition EM ForsterThe current Penguin edition features a detail from ‘English Women visiting caves near Bangalore’ [c. 1880s]. Photograph courtesy of The British Library.

Other editions
My own copy [below] is a Penguin Modern Classics edition, which I have dated 1979. The cover shows Indore in Central India, where a stone bridge spans the river Soor. It is a detail from a drawing by William Simpson in India, Ancient and ModernEM ForsterAs a classic, A Passage to India has been published in many editions and languages. Here is a selection of some of the covers. The Italian cover is particularly dashing.

‘A Passage to India’ by EM Forster [UK: Penguin] Buy at Amazon

If you like old books, check out these:-
‘The Moonstone’ by Wilkie Collins
‘An Ice Cream War’ by William Boyd
‘The Sea The Sea’ by Iris Murdoch

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
First Edition: A PASSAGE TO INDIA by EM Forster #oldbooks via @SandraDanby

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