To "Dear Mr. Seale," one page on "5 Portland Place, W.1." stationery. No legible date, but 1937-1938.
This is Maugham's response to a Mr. Seale who had apparently asked about a good introductory book on philosophy. The text of this letter is:
Cyril Joad brought out with Gollancz last year or the year before a book called, I think, a Handbook to Philosophy, which is very clear and readable, with a very good bibliography at the end of each chapter; this I think will give you exactly what you want. I am not quite sure if that is the exact title, but any good bookseller will be able to have the book for you. I know Gollancz is the publisher. Yours sincerely [signed] W.S. Maugham
We do not know who "Mr Seale" was (the greeting and the closing imply that Maugham did not know him), but Cyril E.M. Joad (1891-1953) was quite a character -- an English philosopher who did indeed write A GUIDE TO PHILOSOPHY (Maugham was close), published by Victor Gollancz in 1936; the book is still in print, and is still considered to be a very readable introduction to philosophy. A few years later, Joad would become part of "The Brains Trust," a BBC wartime-and-later radio program that featured a panel of experts providing unprepared answers to questions submitted by the audience. Joad became quite a celebrity as a result of his witty participation on the program, but was also one of the most controversial UK personalities of wartime -- as he was an atheist, had been a conscientious objector during WWI, and was a diehard pacifist during WWII. All of this celebrity would come crashing down in "The Great Train Ticket Scandal of 1948," in which Joad was discovered sitting in a first-class rail car with a third-class ticket -- which quickly revealed a years-long pattern of sticking it to the railway (and to passengers paying their rightful fares); Joad was immediately thrown off the show, his reputation sullied, and after converting away from atheism, he died five years later.
Light foxing of the leaf, but the letter is in fine condition. Item #14922