“REVIEWERS WERE SHOCKED BUT RECOGNIZED THE AUTHOR’S TALENT”: FIRST EDITION OF W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM’S FIRST BOOK, LIZA OF LAMBETH
MAUGHAM, William Somerset. Liza of Lambeth. London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1897. Octavo, original gilt-stamped green cloth. $2000.
First edition, first issue, of Maugham’s powerful first book that shocked reviewers for its "true and vivid picture" of London at the turn of the century, a handsome copy in original gilt-stamped cloth.
Maugham trained as a doctor in London and Liza of Lambeth, his first novel, drew on his experiences of slums and Cockney life. "He was also under the influence of Guy de Maupassant, whom he had begun to read at the age of 15… 'Though I was not aware of it at the time,' he wrote, 'I know now that when I came to write Liza of Lambeth, I wrote it as I thought Maupassant would have written it'" (Morgan, Maugham, 53). "Liza of Lambeth was published in September 1897, the same year as Captains Courageous by Kipling, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Invisible Man by H.G. Wells, and What Maisie Knew by Henry James, yet despite such formidable competition the unknown Maugham attracted considerable attention, critics on the whole applauding his talent while regretting his shocking subject matter." The Daily Mail acknowledged Maugham's novel was "powerfully and even cleverly written and must be recognized as a true and vivid picture of the life which it depicts" (Hastings, Secret Lives, 84). "The first edition of Liza of Lambeth sold out in a matter of weeks. Reviewers were shocked but recognized the author's talent… the fact that the first edition was sold out and that it was talked about, fueled Maugham's ambition. 'I was determined,' he wrote, 'to stamp myself upon the age'" (Morgan, 57, 60). First issue, with "All rights reserved" in brackets on copyright page. With six pages of publisher's advertisements at rear; as issued without dust jacket. Stott A1. Small owner notation to rear blank.
Text fine, faint bubbling to bright gilt-stamped cloth. A fine copy.