The Hill of Devi is E M Forster's memoir of his two visits to the state of Dewas Senior, in the west of India, first in 1912–13 and later in 1921, when he worked as private secretary to the Maharajah of Dewas. The book consists of the letters Forster wrote home during his two visits, with additional commentary analysing his experience in the country. The title draws inspiration from a hill in Dewas where a temple to the goddess Devi is located. The first edition of the book included plates with photographs of Forster’s visits, including a portrait of the Maharajah and of the writer wearing Indian traditional clothes.
The Hill of Devi and A Passage to India
Forster began writing A Passage to India in the years between his visits to Dewas, and the work was finally published in 1924. Forster’s narration of his experience in India in The Hill of Devi throws light on the portrayal of the country in the novel.
In a ‘Note on A Passage to India’, included at the end of The Hill of Devi, Forster records his frustration at not being able to reproduce the character and complexity of India in his novel:
I began this novel before my 1921 visit, and took out the opening chapters with me, with the intention of continuing them. But as soon as they were confronted with the country they purported to describe, they seemed to wilt and go dead and I could do nothing with them. I used to look at them of an evening in my room at Dewas, and felt only distaste and despair. The gap between India remembered and India experienced was too wide. When I got back to England the gap narrowed, and I was able to resume.
E M Forster, The Hill of Devi (London: Edward Arnold, 1953), p. 155.
- Full title:
- The Hill of Devi
- 1953, New York, US
- Harcourt, Brace & Co.
- E M Forster
- Usage terms
E M Forster: © The Provost and Scholars of King's College, Cambridge and The Society of Authors as the E.M. Forster Estate. You may not use the material for commercial purposes. Please credit the copyright holder when reusing this work.
Anonymous photographer: This material is in the Public Domain.
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- British Library
- Article by:
- Kate Symondson
- Literature 1900–1950, Power and conflict
Kate Symondson explores the tensions and dualities at the heart of A Passage to India and the challenges E M Forster faced in writing the novel.