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If you didn’t take “20th Century British Fiction” in college, you may never have heard of Howards End. The classic 1910 novel by E.M. Forster explores class relations between three families: the Wilcoxes, the Schlegels, and the Basts. Where are the Howards? Though the house the novel centers on, called “Howards End,” still stands, the Howards themselves have ended. Ruth Wilcox is the last descendant of the Howards and all they represented, and much of the anxiety surrounding the novel is created by the question: Who will inherit Howards End when all the Howards are gone? According to Variety, BBC and Starz have teamed up to bring four hour-long episodes of Howards End to the UK and the US respectively.
According to Deadline Hollywood, the Howards End miniseries has been on the books since December 2015, but perhaps its release will be better timed than expected. Vanity Fair suggests that perhaps Howards End will fill the void left by the conclusion of Downton Abbey. The action of the novel occurs around the turn of the century in the early 1900’s. Audiences hungry for another period piece will likely be satisfied by the social drama and intellectual conundrums of Margaret and Helen Schlegel whose pursuit of “culture” is far more successful than Leonard Bast’s. If that doesn’t intrigue, the complex and Victorian-esque courtships, proposals, and downright dumpings should add some spice to the story.
Set to star in the limited series Howards End according to BroadwayWorld and Deadline Hollywood are Hayley Atwell who will play Margaret Schlegel, Matthew Macfadyen who will play Henry Wilcox, and Tracey Ullman who will play Aunt Juley Mund. Under the direction of Hettie Macdonald of White Girl and with a screen adaptation by Kenneth Lonergan of Manchester by the Sea and Gangs of New York, Howards End will be filmed in and around London, per Deadline Hollywood.
“Just connect” is a common theme of Forster’s novel. Howards End is more than a comedic clash of classes; it is a story with emotional depth, confusion, and real-life compromise. The events of the Schlegels’, the Wilcoxes’, and the Basts’ lives call into question gender roles, national character, and what is at the heart of human feeling.
So whether you are a die hard Forester fan or are still going through Downton Abbey withdrawals, keep an eye out to connect with Howards End on Starz or BBC.