The Drama Queen: William Somerset Maugham

Illustration for TIME by Emiliano Ponzi

Very few people read William Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) anymore. But in the lands that used to form the British Empire he was immensely popular, from the 1930s right through to the 1980s, and he has a small fan base still. In his native England, he was a well-loved dramatist whose record of having four plays running concurrently in the West End remained unbroken for a generation. He climbed dizzying heights of fame and prosperity, lived a long life (of which nearly six decades were in circumstances of great renown), and besides being a writer was a doctor and a...

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