Looking out upon the backstreets, the suburbs and the high society haunts of Edwardian London, the delightfully witty and independent spinster Miss Ley surveys a tangled web of lives; she sympathetically observes the struggle under the pressures of convention, and the complex interplay between love and reason. Through Miss Ley's eyes we witness the brief but happy marriage of a dying poet; a woman's adulterous passion for a young rascal; and finally, an honourable man's decision to take virtue to extremes.William Somerset Maugham (25 January 1874 – 16 December 1965) was an English playwright, novelist and short story writer. He was among the most popular writers of his era and reputedly the highest paid author of the 1930s. Maugham was orphaned by the age of ten, but after an unhappy childhood, he flourished when he moved to London to study medicine as a young man, giving him plenty of inspiration for his literary ambitions. His first novel, Liza of Lambeth, sold out in a matter of weeks, prompting Maugham to leave medicine and embark on a 65-year career as a man of letters. By 1914 he was famous, with ten successful plays produced and ten novels published. In 1917, he was asked by the British Secret Intelligence Service (now MI6) to undertake a special mission in Russia; an experience which would go on to inspire Ashenden, a collection of short stories about a gentlemanly spy that influenced Ian Fleming’s James Bond series. Maugham’s most famous works include Of Human Bondage, a semiautobiographical novel, The Moon and Sixpence, Cakes and Ales and The Razor's Edge. His writing has inspired a string of over 35 film adaptations and has influenced many notable authors, including Anthony Burgess, George Orwell and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
"Maugham was one of the great masters of clever narrative and construction." (Allan Massie, Sunday Herald)
"A formidable talent, a formidable sum of talents." (Spectator)
"It is very difficult for a writer of my generation, if he is honest, to pretend indifference to the work of Somerset Maugham.... He was always so entirely there." (Gore Vidal)
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