Foreign News: Ashenden's Escape

British Novelist William Somerset Maugham is a great believer in firsthand adventure as a source for fiction. He turned his own experiences as World War I intelligence agent into the spy novel Ashenden. Last week the aging, 66-year-old author had abundant material for a World War II novel accumulated during a 20-day voyage of escape from France in the company of 1,300 British refugees.

Forced to flee his British Ministry of Information job in Paris when the victorious German columns entered the city, Maugham made his way south through the chaos of collapsing France while London papers listed him as missing. For...

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