W. Somerset Maugham was one of the twentieth century's most popular novelists as well as a celebrated playwright, critic, and short story writer. He was born in Paris but grew up in England and served as a secret agent for the British during World War I. He wrote many novels, including the classics Of Human Bondage, The Razor's Edge, Cakes and Ale, The Painted Veil, The Moon and Sixpence, and Up at the Villa. Pico Iyer is the author of many books about travel, including Video Night in Kathmandu. His most recent book is The Open Road.
"Maugham is a great artist. . . . A genius." --Theodore Dreiser "An expert craftsman. . . . His style is sharp, quick, subdued, casual." --The New York Times "Maugham has given infinite pleasure and left us a splendour of writing which will remain for as long as the written English word is permitted to exist." --The Daily Telegraph "The modern writer who has influenced me most is Somerset Maugham." --George Orwell "Maugham remains the consummate craftsman. . . . [His prose is] so compact, so economical, so closely motivated, so skillfully written, that it rivets attention from the first page to last." --The Saturday Review of Literature "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