W. Somerset Maugham(1874-1965) lived in Paris until he was ten. He was educated at King's School, Canterbury, and at Heidelberg University. He afterwards walked the wards of St. Thomas's Hospital with a view to practice in medicine, but the success of his first novel, Liza of Lambeth(1897), won him over to letters. Something of his hospital experience is reflected, however, in the first of his masterpieces, Of Human Bondage(1915), and withThe Moon and Sixpence(1919) his reputation as a novelist was assured. His position as one of the most successful playwrights on the London stage was being consolidated simultaneously. His first play, A Man of Honour(1903), was followed by a procession of successes just before and after the First World War. (At one point only Bernard Shaw had more plays running at the same time in London.) His theatre career ended withSheppey(1933).His fame as a short-story writer began withThe Trembling of a Leaf, sub-titledLittle Stories of the South Sea Islands, in 1921, after which he published more than ten collections. W. Somerset Maugham's general books are fewer in number. They include travel books, such asOn a Chinese Screen(1922) andDon Fernando(1935), essays, criticism, and the self-revealingThe Summing Up(1938) andA Writer's Notebook(1949).He became a Companion of Honour in 1954.