Aspects of dwelling: an investigation into the role of domestic spaces in E.M. Forster’s 'Howards End' and its influence on my own writing

Woodward, G (2022) Aspects of dwelling: an investigation into the role of domestic spaces in E.M. Forster’s 'Howards End' and its influence on my own writing. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.

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This PhD by Publication consist of two parts: Part One is a selection from the body of published work that I have produced since 1991, namely the poetry collections 'Householder' (Chatto and Windus 1991); 'After The Deafening' (Chatto and Windus 1994), 'Island to Island' (Chatto and Windus 1999), 'We Were Pedestrians' (Chatto and Windus 2005) and 'The Seacunny' (Picador 2012), along with my first three published novels 'August' (Chatto and Windus 2001); 'I’ll Go To Bed at Noon'; (Chatto and Windus 2004) and 'A Curious Earth' (Chatto and Windus 2007), known collectively as 'The Jones Trilogy'. Part Two is a contextualizing thesis. In this I examine the role of dwelling and the depiction of domestic spaces in my writing and attempt to situate them within a context of other writing about domestic spaces, with particular focus on E.M.Forster’s novel of 1910, 'Howards End'. I adopt a personal, autobiographical tone and viewpoint in the early part of this thesis because this seems to be the most appropriate way of examining the influence of Forster’s novel on my own thinking and my writing. I begin by performing an act of descriptive recall by remembering my own childhood home in North London. 'Howards End' begins with a similar descriptive act, and this gives me the opportunity to describe the impact that novel had on me both in terms of my development as a writer, and at a personal level, describing how its mytho-symbolic system interacted with my own family history. After describing my own visit to the house in the early 1980s I look more closely at Forster’s personal history of dwelling and what the model for 'Howards End', Rooksnest, might have meant to him. I follow this with a brief survey of the history of the country house in the English novel and the place of 'Howards End' within that tradition before charting my own early and unsuccessful attempts at writing novels that addressed similar themes. I then describe how an encounter with Peter Redgrove and his work while I was a student at Falmouth School of Art turned me in the direction of writing poetry. I describe his use of domestic imagery and I look at my five poetry collections, tracing their own uses of such imagery. The next section returns to 'Howards End' for a closer look at the writing itself. In particular I examine Forster’s use of water metaphors when writing about buildings, which provides some links to my own ways of thinking about buildings in relation to notions of durability, time and permanence. Another survey of some failed early novels of mine follows before I turn to describing my first published prose works, 'The Jones Trilogy' ('August', 'I’ll Go To Bed at Noon' and 'A Curious Earth') and come to the conclusion that as well as echoing some of the themes of Forster’s novel, the house in my trilogy is also trying to say something about the importance and nature of artistic creativity. In chronicling the development of my writing through the numerous failures as well as the successes I hope to show that the creative process is, for me at least, one of constant trial and error, experimentation and risk-taking. I can only estimate that I wrote around nine novels before having my first, August, published in 2001 (it was subsequently shortlisted for the Whitbread Fist Novel Award). I hope that this may offer encouragement and reassurance to others that the publishing of novels and sustaining a career as a novelist is a process in which both successes and failures contribute to the overall journey, and that this journey is never one that can be undertaken lightly.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)

This is a PhD by Publication. Part of the PhD are three novels and five poetry collections by Gerard Woodward, published between 1991 and 2012. The text attached to this record is the contextualizing component only.

Keywords: PhD by publication, creative writing, fiction, poetry, creativity, writing processes, domestic spaces, memory, childhood, English country houses, English novels, E.M. Forster, Peter Redgrove
Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
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Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2022 18:21
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2023 13:38
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