Description

    W. Somerset Maugham. Ashenden. London: Heinemann, 1928.

    First edition. Octavo. 304 pages.

    Publisher's blue cloth with gilt and black stamping. A bright, crisp copy with light wear to spine ends. Faint shadows on the front and rear pastedowns, likely from a now-discarded jacket protector. The full color dust jacket - a wonderful example of Art Deco design - is in near fine condition with evidence of touch-up restoration along the edges and spine ends. Ironically, it appears the jacket was originally damaged by the very protector designed to protect it. Quality restoration has saved this beautiful scarce dust jacket from further deterioration. Overall, a near fine copy, housed in a custom full morocco clamshell box by Heritage Bindery.

    Based on Maugham's own experiences with British Intelligence in World War I, Ashenden later became required reading for those entering the British Intelligence Service. At the beginning of World War II, Hitler's minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, referred to Ashenden as an example of British cynicism and brutality. Not all of the stories made it to print, however; when Winston Churchill read the manuscript, he informed Maugham that some of the stories violated the Official Secrets Act, and Maugham was directed to destroy them. Ashenden, based as it was on real-life experiences rather than those created in a writer's imagination, greatly influenced writers of the genre, particularly Maugham's friend Ian Fleming. Difficult to find in such beautiful condition, this cornerstone of modern espionage fiction is one of the most collected and collectible of Maugham's books.

    Stott A37a. Morgan, p. 205. From the Collection of Norman F. Moore.


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    June, 2009
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