WITH AMPLE SELECTIONS FROM contemporary family letters, the sixth chapter of E. M. Forster's Marianne Thornton: A Domestic Biography (1956), entitled “Deceased Wife's Sister,” narrates the story of “a fantastic mishap” that the members of his grandparents' generation “could only regard as tragic” (189). After the death of his first wife, Harriet, in 1840, Henry Thornton decided to take another – Harriet's younger sister Emily – and at once, “the situation became very awkward” (190). Having lived with Henry all her life, his sister Marianne “behaved civilly” (190) to Emily Dealtry, who “had continued to frequent the house” after Harriet's demise, helping “to look after her nephew and her nieces” (189), but another Thornton sister, Isabella, “refused to see her anywhere” (190). Spending “vast sums” without success “in trying to get the 1850 bill passed” (192) – a bill that would have repealed the 1835 statute invalidating all such future marriages – Henry closed up the family home and took Emily, her mother, and his own daughters abroad to solemnize the marriage in one of the many European states where these unions were legal. Appalled, the rest of his nine siblings, most of them married, worked to maintain a united front. Upon Henry and Emily's return to England, they prevailed upon the susceptible Marianne to stay away from Battersea Rise, the family home: even “a single visit” from her, Forster's clerical grandfather insisted, “will be magnified into countenance and approval by a leading member of the family: and every artifice be employed to draw others in …. In the mind of society the family may become mixed with the offenders: and real injury be done without any resultant benefit” (214). By this act on the part of “the Master, the Inheritor, who had betrayed his trust,” Forster characterizes the other members of the family as “excluded for ever” from their ancestral home “unless they bent the knee to immorality, which was unthinkable” (205). Marking his own distance from Thornton family values, Forster comments, “to the moralist, so much discomfort will seem appropriate. To the amoralist it will offer yet another example of the cruelty and stupidity of the English law in matters of sex” (210).