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the experience of reading in Britain, from 1450 to 1945...

Reading Experience Database UK Historical image of readers

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Somerset Maugham


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Somerset Maugham : Cakes and Ale

Virginia Woolf to Vanessa Bell, 8 November 1930: 'We had a terrific visitation from Hugh Walpole. If you want a book from the Times, get Cakes and Ale by Somerset Maugham. All London is ringing with it. For there poor Hugh [Walpole] is most cruelly and maliciously at the same time unmistakably and amusingly caricatured [as Alroy Kear]. He was sitting on his bed with only one sock on when he opened it. There he sat with only one sock on till 11 next morning reading it [...] He almost wept in front of Hilda Matheson, Vita [Sackville-West] and Clive [Bell], in telling us. And he couldn't stop. Whenever we changed the conversation he went back.'

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Hugh Walpole      Print: Book


W. Somerset Maugham : Liza of Lambeth

'I've just finished reading "Liza of Lambeth" It is certainly worth reading--but whether it's worth talking about is another question. I at any rate have nothing to say except this--that I do not like society novels--and Liza to me is just a society novel--society of a kind.[...] It will be fairly successful I believe--for it is a "genre" picture without any atmosphere and consequently no reader can live in it. He just looks on--and that is what the general reader prefers.' Conrad then compares the novel to George Du Maurier's illustrations.

Century: 1850-1899     Reader/Listener/Group: Joseph Conrad      Print: Book


Somerset Maugham : A Christmas Holiday

'More stimulating was the reading of Somerset Maugham's short novel, "A Christmas Holiday".'

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Vera Brittain      Print: Book


Somerset Maugham : The Summing-Up

'His reading in 1938 and 1939 had been mainly of memoirs and biographies: Boswell, Greville, Logan Pearsall Smith's Unforgotten Years, Siegfried Sassoon's The Old Century, Somerset Maugham's The Summing-Up ("a very honest confession of faith").'

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: John Buchan      Print: Book


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