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Thursday, June 21, 2012

‘Revealing Mr. Maugham’

British novelist and playwright W. Somerset Maugham waves farewell as he leaves from New York for Europe aboard the ocean liner Aquitania, on May 22, 1923. (AP)

A new documentary by Michael House tells the story of Somerset Maugham, the novelist, spy, playwright, physician and prolific writer, who took on the taboo subjects of adultery and sexual jealousy and breathed new life into the spy novel.

He was married, had male lovers, traveled the world, and watched many of his works come to the big screen. Bette Davis played the femme fatale in the ’30s film adaptation of “Of Human Bondage,” Greta Garbo was in “The Painted Veil,” and Peter Lorre, “Secret Agent.”

Revealing Mr. Maugham” also looks at the writer’s personal struggles — including a stammer that Maugham developed as a child after his parents died.

Although he was married, Maugham had a longtime relationship with an American man, Gerald Haxton, who helped the more retiring Maugham meet the people who would become characters in Maugham’s stories.

“Revealing Mr Maugham” is available for purchase online.

Somerset Maugham Novels Discussed In This Segment

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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