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Four Letters by W. Somerset Maugham

W. Somerset Maugham--author of such novels as Of Human Bondage (1915), The Moon and Sixpence (1919), and The Razor’s Edge (1944)—wrote the four letters held by the Frellsen Fletcher Smith Collection when he was in his eighties. The letters are on stationary from Villa Mauresque, Maugham’s palatial home in the Riviera between Nice and Monte Carlo. Letter 1 is the most personal and the only one written in Maugham’s own hand, congratulating the charmingly handsome American writer and social critic, Max Eastman, on his birthday. Maugham states his envy of the recipient being “in the early eighties.” The letter has a penciled in date of 1962, though Eastman would not have turned 80 until January 4, 1963. Maugham was 88 at the time. The other three letters are responses to fans asking for favors and autographs. Letter 2, dated 23rd March, 1961,  responds to a Mr. Sessie on what seems to have been questions about Maugham’s life and work. Maugham graciously turns down any lengthy reply on the grounds of his ill health. Maugham died on Dec.15, 1965 of a stroke at the age of 91.

Letters 1 and 2 are pictured below; the others are available for viewing in the Frellsen Fletcher Smith Collection.

- Dr. Don Kaczvinsky, Department of English, Louisiana Tech University






The Morning

Dear Max

This is just to congratulate you on your birthday & to tell you that I envy you to being only in the early eighties.















23rd March, 1961.

Dear Mr. Sessie,

Thank you for your charming letter. To answer all the questions you ask me would take hours of concentration, and at my advanced age and in my indifferent state of health, it is asking too much of me. I shall content myself with urging you to go [sic] England, which I think you will find very much worth while.

Yours sincerely,

W. S. Maugham