E.M. Forster’s Howards End, written in 1910, was first issued by Vintage Books in 1954, with a cover by E. McKnight Kauffer. The house is Forster’s central character, but it is never described in the book, and trying to convey it visually would be like attempting to illustrate the face of Lolita or Holly Gollightly. [Incidentally, Forster based the house on his childhood home in Hertfordshire. —Ed.] Instead, McKnight Kauffer chose to convey the novel’s triangular relationships in the form of trees. You could say that the two white trees are the Schlegel sisters and the black tree is a member of the Wilcox family, or Mr Bast. The two white trees lean into each other and away from the upstart black tree, but they are all connected by foliage.
In re-packaging this book for a Vintage Classics reissue that will come out later this year, a homage to the original cover seemed too tempting to pass up. Textiles were the theme for the four novels being re-issued (also A Room with a View, Where Angels Fear to Tread and The Longest Journey). So a pattern of trees by the Spitalfields silk designer, Anna Maria Garthwaite, was chosen from the Victoria & Albert Museum. It shows two apple trees and a pear tree. In the spirit of E. M. Forster therefore, we were able to “only connect…”