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The Ant and The Grasshopper/Princess September

Two rare fables from Somerset Maugham's large collection of short stories. One about misconceptions. The other about the dangers of vanity. Episode 2 of 5.

Somerset Maugham wrote just a few fables amongst his large collection of short stories. Here are two - one about misconceptions and the other about the dangers of vanity.

Interviewed in 1933, Maugham said, 'It has always seemed to me that literature can only find its fullest and freest expression in the essay or short story.' He wrote more than 100 stories, at least 14 of which he burned on one of his 'bonfire nights', after Winston Churchill warned that they contravened the Official Secrets Act. Of the stories that do survive, he said, 'some of them deal with circumstances and places to which the passage of time and the growth of civilisation will give a romantic glamour.'

A collection of Maugham's best stories with tales from home and abroad. Tales of intrigue from far-flung colonial outposts and tales of passion from quintessentially British hearths.

Maugham writes perfect vignettes - snapshots of human life in all its diversity - captured at a moment of crisis or revelation.

Abridged by Polly Coles
Read by Daniel Weyman and Lucy Robinson
Produced by Clive Brill

A Brill Production for BBC Radio 4 Extra.

15 minutes