He was a brilliant teller of tales, one of the most widely read authors of the twentieth century, and at one time the most famous writer in the world, yet W. Somerset Maugham s own true story has never been fully told. At last, the truth is revealed in a landmark biography by the award-winning writer Selina Hastings. Granted unprecedented access to Maugham s personal correspondence and to newly uncovered interviews with his only child, Hastings portrays the secret loves, betrayals, integrity, and passion that inspired Maugham to create such classics as The Razor s Edge and Of Human Bondage. Portrayed in full for the first time is Maugham s disastrous marriage to Syrie Wellcome, a manipulative society woman who trapped Maugham with a pregnancy and an attempted suicide. Hastings also explores Maugham s many affairs with men, including his great love, Gerald Haxton, an alcoholic charmer. Maugham s work in secret intelligence during two world wars is described in fascinating detail experiences that provided the inspiration for the groundbreaking Ashenden stories. From the West End to Broadway, from China to the South Pacific, Maugham s remarkably productive life is thrillingly recounted as Hastings uncovers the real stories behind such classics as Rain, The Painted Veil, Cakes & Ale, and other well-known tales.
"[Hastings] provides a searing emotional history...so powerfully written, in places so shocking, as to give a series of physical jolts to the reader. Hasting's book cannot be bettered." -"Sunday Telegraph"
"Brilliant...Every so often, a biography appears of such authority and such power that it is more than a chronicle of a human life, it is a work of art...Such is Selina Hastings' skill that this horrible story is richly enjoyable."--A. N. Wilson, "Reader's Digest"
"A sensitive and sympathetic biography."--"Sunday Times"
"Pitch-perfect: supple, confident and written with something of the same beady detachment (and enjoyable signature streak of malice) as the great tale-teller himself." -Nicholas Shakespeare, "Daily Telegraph"
"The places and people she describes are portrayed with such graphic clarity and assurance. She sets a scene or establishes a personality with great economy and intensity."--"Observer"
"An impressively perceptive and often movin