Somerset Maugham is the acknowledged master of the short story, and his full range is represented in this collection. In acclaimed stories such as 'Rain', 'The Letter', 'The Vessel of Wrath' and 'The Alien Corn', Maugham illustrates his wry perception of human weakness and his genius for evoking compelling drama and an acute sense of time and place.
"His plots are cool and deadly, and his timing is absolutely flawless" Raymond Chander
William Somerset Maugham was born in 1874 and lived in Paris until he was ten. He was educated at King's School, Canterbury, and at Heidelberg University. He spent some time at St. Thomas' Hospital with the idea of practising medicine, but the success of his first novel, Liza of Lambeth, published in 1897, won him over to literature. Of Human Bondage, the first of his masterpieces, came out in 1915, and with the publication in 1919 of The Moon and Sixpence his reputation as a novelist was established. At the same time his fame as a successful playwright and writer was being consolidated with acclaimed productions of various plays and the publication of several short story collections. His other works include travel books, essays, criticism and the autobiographical The Summing Up and A Writer's Notebook. In 1927 Somerset Maugham settled in the South of France and lived there until his death in 1965.
"His plots are cool and deadly, and his timing is absolutely flawless" -- Raymond Chander "The short story was Maugham's true metier, and the stories he wrote are among the best in the language" -- Anthony Burgess "One of our great story-tellers" Independent "At his best he can tell a story as well as any man alive or dead" -- Desmond McCarthy