Howards End belongs to several genres of early 20th century fiction, including the novel of manners, psychological realism, and the tragicomedy.
Novels of manners explore the social conventions and customs of upper-class English life. In Howards End, Forster delves into the relationships, morals, and values of his characters. The book spends a lot of time thinking about how they navigate their place in society. The novel also has a political agenda: it critiques the harsh social structures of England. It repeatedly asks the reader to question the power dynamics it displays.
Howards End also belongs to the genre of psychological realism. Realist novels try to realistically depict everyday life and events in a way that gives a reader a truthful sense of the period. Psychological realism also does this, but pays attention, too, to the inner thoughts, motivations, and desires of characters. Forster depicts his characters’ inner lives with depth and attention, exploring their development and the reasons behind their choices.
The book also fits within the tragicomedy genre. This genre blends sad events with funny ones, providing a varied and balanced experience for the reader. While Howards End engages with serious topics such as death, concealment, and social inequality, the author often injects humor into his descriptions of events and characters.