Books: W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965)

"YEARS ago, when William Somerset Maugham was a young man of 64, he turned his thoughts to a subject of considerable importance to him: a fitting end to his own story. "Having held a certain place in the world for a long time," Maugham wrote in The Summing Up, "I am content that others soon should occupy it. When nothing can be added without spoiling the design the artist leaves it."

But the end was too long in coming: 27 years. The design was spoiled and it sorely strained the patience of the man who was dedicated to the idea that a...

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