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A successful businessman has everything he wants. When he looks about him, everything seems to be going well in this best of all possible worlds. And yet something haunts him.

A successful businessman has everything he wants. When he looks about him, everything seems to be going well in this best of all possible worlds. And yet something haunts him.

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
Produced by Clive Brill

A Brill Production for BBC Radio 4 Extra.

15 minutes

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