"The Longest Journey" is a novel by E.M. Forster, published in 1907.
Frederick Elliot, nicknamed Rickie, was a lame and delicate child who hated his father and gave all his affection to his cold and indifferent mother. While an undergraduate at Cambridge he is visited by his friend Agnes Pembroke and her brother Herbert with news of her engagement to Gerald Dawes, an "athletic wonder boy". Shortly afterward Dawes dies of a sporting injury, and to cut the story short, Rickie and Agnes eventually marry.
Rickie's passion is to become a writer. Disappointed in his literary attempts to become one, Rickie accepts a teaching post offered by Herbert, who is housemaster at Sawston, a minor public school.
On a visit by the young couple to his father's sister, Aunt Emily Failing, a wealthy eccentric widow of a prominent essayist. Rickie Stephen Wonham, supposed nephew of Aunt Emily. Stephen is 19 year-old quarrelsome and semi-educated guy who takes to drinking. In a way, Aunt Emily wants Richie and Stephen to get to know each other.
Different in personalities, Rickie and Stephen do not get on well. Then Aunt Emily reveals to Rickie a long-kept secret that they are half brothers. Shocked, Rickie assumes that Stephen is his father's illegitimate son, his father he hated, and who lived apart from him and his mother when he was a child.
Agnes, essentially conventional, considers the revelation something to be ashamed of, and believes that Stephen should be avoided. Without Rickie's knowledge, Agnes tries to persuade Aunt Emily Failing to Send Stephen away. Rickie finds out about Agnes's attitude and her action also coincides with his disillusionment with her brother Herbert.
Rickie's Cambridge friend, Stewart Ansell, condemns the selfish and judgemental preoccupation of the Pembrokes, and eventually reveals that Stephen is in fact the son of Rickie's mother and not his father as he suspected.
Leaving his wife, Rickie resolves to assist his half-brother, Stephen, who promises to reform. Unfortunately, Stephen soon becomes helplessly drunk and afterwards falls on the railway tracks at a level crossing. Rickie, in attempting to save him, is fatally injured and eventually dies. Though his life is cut short, Rickie's moral clarity is vindicated, as he rejected conventional hypocrisy and acknowledged his true relationship to his brother.
Stephen marries and stands up to Herbert Pembroke for his right to his half-brother's money from books he had written. After his death, Frederick "Rickie" Elliot has become a noted author. The "journey" in the title signifies one man's physical length of time on earth.