This collection contains a number of items by and about E.M. Forster. The heart of the collection consists of Forster's writings, published and unpublished, held by the archive centre in manuscript, typescript and photocopied forms. Items written for publication, or in some cases broadcast, have been placed at the start of the collection. These include manuscripts, drafts and fragments of his novels, short stories, essays, talks, plays, poems and memoirs. Contributions to periodicals, which the archive centre holds almost entirely in photocopied form, have been placed later in the sequence. Items written for the public have been followed by items written or compiled for private contemplation: E.M. Forster's journals and notebooks, as well as commonplace books, anthologies and scapbooks.
Texts written or compiled by E.M. Forster have been followed by documents less purposively constructed. Forster's financial records and documents recording special moments in his life accompany a voluminous correspondence with family, friends and colleagues. A significant collection of photographs and prints, containing over 1000 images, record E.M. Forster, his family, his friends and the places that he traveled. Subsequently listed are several items left by E.M. Forster's Thornton, Forster and Whichelo ancestors.
Over time, the collection has also accrued a sizable body of papers that, while not created by Forster, concern his life and work. On one hand, these include a copious amount of material related to adaptations and criticism of his works. On the other, they include materials that Forster gathered, such as the books in his library. These 'related papers' have been listed in series 29-32.
Soon after E.M. Forster's death, it was decided that a new, critical edition of all of his work should be published. The Abinger edition, under the editorship of Oliver Stallybrass and Elizabeth Heine, was the result. King's College has in its possession much of the preparatory material for this edition, including correspondence between the editors and other parties, research notes and earlier versions of what would become the Abinger texts. These have been listed in series 33-40.
The final series contains a history of the collection's development in the form of former catalogues.
In view of the assorted contents of many original notebooks and modern composite guard books, this catalogue has separate entries for each piece of creative writing, be it a physically discrete item or a few lines or sheets within a larger whole. To order material from the store therefore, readers should note the call mark given at the end of each entry, rather than the catalogue entry number in the left-hand margin, as the manuscripts of several entries will be found in the same volume or guard book. The basic arrangement of entries in sections 1-5, 18 and 29 is alphabetical by title, rather than chronological by date of writing, although recently catalogued items have often been placed at the end of a sequence. Sections 7, 10, 12, 17, 19 and 20-25 are chronological. For more information concerning the arrangement of section 18, see the introduction to that series. Sections 33-40 concern the materials from the Abinger edition and its editors. In sections 33-40, materials concerning each novel have been separately gathered where provenance allows. The novels have then been placed in alphabetical order as in section one of this catalogue, rather than in order of their publication in the Abinger edition, with materials concerning multiple volumes preceding those that are relevant to only a single volume.