London: William Heinemann, (1930). Original blue cloth, with dust jacket.
First Edition of
perhaps his best novel, a witty and delicious comedy of literary England in the early decades of the 20th century, told in the first person by a novelist, Ashenden. The pushing and self-advertising novelist Alroy Kear wants to get at the details of the early life of Edward Driffield, an eminent novelist whose biography Kear has been commissioned to write. Ashenden had known Driffield and his first wife Rosie, a barmaid; Rosie, the skeleton in the cupboard of Driffield's life, is Kear's stumbling block -- he is not honest enough to be given the facts that Ashenden gives the reader. Rosie is a wonderful character -- affectionate, amoral, and generous. The narrator is obviously Maugham but he denied what so many readers were quick to conclude: that Alroy Kear was founded on Hugh Walpole and Edward Driffield on Thomas Hardy. [CGEL]
This copy lacks the "t" of "won't" on line 14 of p. 147, which is often regarded as the "first state" (even by Maugham himself -- see below); however, as Toole Stott points out, this may well be merely a matter of type slippage during the print run (and the "t" could have dropped off during the run, or it could have been inserted during the run -- in either event, both "states" were then issued simultaneously to the public). This volume is in near-fine condition (spine very slightly faded, a trace of edge-wear); the dust jacket is very good (minor soil and edge-wear). Toole Stott A41. Item #14311