W. Somerset Maugham on stage and screen

The playwright, novelist and short-story writer W. Somerset Maugham 22, was a prolific author from the late 19th century until the 1960s. Most of his earliest successes were for the theatre, but he gave up writing plays after 1932. Many of his plays have been adapted for broadcasting and the cinema, as have several of his novels and short stories. The New York Times commented in 1964, "There are times when one thinks that British television and radio would have to shut up shop if there were not an apparently inexhaustible supply of stories by Maugham to turn into 30-minute plays. One recalls, too, the long list of movies that have been made from his novels − Of Human Bondage, The Moon and Sixpence, The Painted Veil, The Razor's Edge and the rest.[1]


Title Type Acts Premiere
(West End except where noted)
Initial run Ref
Schiffbruchig (Marriages are Made in Heaven) romantic comedy 1 1902, Berlin 8 [2]
Mademoiselle Zampa farce 1 1904 20 [3]
A Man of Honour drama 4 1904[n 1] 28 [4]
Lady Frederick comedy 3 1907 422 [5]
The Explorer drama 4 1908 48 [6]
Mrs Dot light comedy 3 1908 272 [7]
Jack Straw comedy 3 1908 321 [8]
Penelope comedy 3 1909 246 [9]
The Noble Spaniard[n 2] farce 3 1909 55 [10]
Smith comedy 4 1909 168 [11]
The Tenth Man tragic comedy 3 1910 65 [12]
Grace[n 3] drama 4 1910 72 [14]
Loaves and Fishes satire 4 1911 48 [15]
The Perfect Gentleman[n 4] comedy 1 1913 8 [16]
The Land of Promise romantic drama 4 1913 76 [17]
Caroline[n 5] light comedy 3 1916 141 [19]
Our Betters comedy 3 1917, New York
1923, West End
Love In a Cottage drama 4 1918 127 [21]
Caesar's Wife romantic drama 3 1919 241 [22]
Home and Beauty[n 6] farce 3 1919 235 [23]
The Unknown drama 3 1920 77 [24]
The Circle comedy 3 1921 181 [25]
East of Suez drama 7 scenes 1922 209 [26]
The Camel's Back farce 3 1924 76 [27]
The Road Uphill drama 3 1924 play, unproduced [28]
The Constant Wife comedy 3 1926, New York 295 [29]
The Letter[n 7] drama 3 1927 338 [31]
The Sacred Flame drama 3 1929 209 [30]
The Breadwinner comedy 3 1930 158 [32]
For Services Rendered drama 3 1933 78 [33]
The Mask and the Face[n 8] satire 3 1933, Boston and New York 40 [34]
Sheppey comedy 3 1933 83 [35]

Film adaptations

Cinema and television versions of Maugham plays, novels and short stories include:

  • The Facts of Life. Directed by Ralph Smart. From the short story collection The Mixture as Before.
  • The Alien Corn. Directed by Harold French. From the short story collection First Person Singular.
  • The Kite. Directed by Arthur Crabtree. From the short story collection Creatures of Circumstance.
  • The Colonel's Lady. Directed by Ken Annakin. From the short story collection Creatures of Circumstance.[41]
  • Trio (1950). Maugham appears as himself in introductions. Another collection based on short stories.
  • The Verger. Directed by Ken Annakin. From the short story collection Cosmopolitans.
  • Mr Knowall. Directed by Ken Annakin. From the short story collection Cosmopolitans.
  • Sanatorium Directed by Harold French. From the short story collection Creatures of Circumstance.[41]
  • Encore (1951). Maugham appears as himself in introductions. A third collection of Maugham short stories.[37]
  • The Ant and the Grasshopper. Directed by Pat Jackson. From the short story collection Cosmopolitans.
  • Winter Cruise. Directed by Anthony Pelissier. From the short story collection Creatures of Circumstance.
  • Gigolo and Gigolette. Directed by Harold French. From the short story collection The Mixture as Before.[41]
  • A Casual Affair
Norman Bird as Arthur Low, Gwen Cherrell as Joan Low, James Maxwell as Jack Almond, Hildegard Neil as Lady Kastellan, Richard Vernon as Lord Kastellan, Esmond Knight as Sir Montague Trafford. Director: Waris Hussein
  • The Back of Beyond
Daniel Massey as Knobby Clarke, Julian Glover as Tom Saffary, Mary Peach as Violet Saffary, Georgina Hale as Enid Clarke. Director: John Frankau
  • The Creative Impulse
Brenda de Banzie as Mrs Albert Forrester, John Le Mesurier as Mr Albert Forrester, Megs Jenkins as Mrs Bulfinch, Derek Hart as the Narrator. Director: James Cellan Jones
  • The Letter
Eileen Atkins as Leslie Crosbie, Andre Morell as George Joyce, Peter Bowles as Robert Crosbie. Director: Christopher Morahan
  • A Man with a Conscience
Keith Barron as Jean Charvin, John Glyn-Jones as Jean-Paul Giradous, John Phillips as The Commandant. Director: Henri Safran
  • The Three Fat Women of Antibes
Renee Houston as Frank Hickson, Elspeth March as Beatrice Richman, June Ellis as Arrow Sutcliffe, Elizabeth Sellars as Lena Finch. Director: Bill Hays
  • P. and O.
Margaret Tyzack as Mrs Hamlyn, Peter Barkworth as Mr Jephson, Martin Jarvis as Dr. Naughton. Director: Gilchrist Calder
  • Lord Mountdrago
Michael Goodliffe as Lord Mountdrago, William Squire as Owen Griffiths, Cyril Luckham as Sir Philip Brandower, Yootha Joyce as Elvira, Paul Whitsun-Jones as Bracegirdle. Director: Moira Armstrong
  • Louise
Sarah Badel as Louise, Pauline Yates as Betty Maitland, Neil Stacy as Tom Maitland. Director: Guy Verney
  • Episode
Joe Brown as Fred Manson, Anna Calder-Marshall as Gracie Carter, Jerome Willis as Ned Preston. Director: John Warrington
  • Mother Love (based on A Woman of Fifty)
Rossano Brazzi as The Count, Amanda Murray as Laura Clayton, Peter Egan as Tito. Director: Claude Whatham
  • The Fall of Edward Barnard
Robert Sherman as Bateman Hunter, Ed Bishop as Edward Barnard. Director: John Matthews
  • Before the Party
Anna Massey as Millicent Bannon, Joss Ackland as Harold Bannon, Fanny Rowe as Mrs Skinner, Anna Cropper as Kathleen Skinner, Clive Morton as Mr Skinner, Avice Landon as Mrs Grey, Geoffrey Chater as Mr Grey. Director: James Ferman
  • The Force of Circumstance
John Stride as Guy Wilkes, Lynn Farleigh as Doris Hanson, Lally Bowers as Mrs Hanson. Director: John Frankau
  • Jane
Rachel Kempson as Jane, Georgina Cookson as Marion Towers, Gerald Flood as Geoffrey Mandeville, Dennis Price as Admiral Frobisher. Director: Guy Verney
  • Rain
Carroll Baker as Sadie Thompson, Michael Bryant as Mr Davidson, Gordon Jackson as Dr MacPhail. Director: John MacKenzie
  • The Unconquered
Michael Pennington as Hans. Director: Gilchrist Calder
  • The Vessel of Wrath
James Booth as Ginger Ted, Siân Phillips as Martha Jones, John Glyn-Jones as the Rev Owen Jones. Director: Gareth Davies
  • Olive (based on The Book Bag)
Eileen Atkins as Olive Hardy, Edward Fox as Tim Hardy, Martin Potter as Mark Featherstone. Director: James Cellan Jones
  • The Closed Shop
Charles Gray as the Storyteller, Peter Jeffrey as El Presidente Two, Paul Whitsun-Jones as El Presidente One, John Junkin as Don Agosto. Director: Moira Armstrong
  • The Door of Opportunity
Marianne Faithfull as Anne Torel, Ian Ogilvy as Alban Torel. Director: William Slater
  • Virtue
Daphne Slater as Margery Bishop, Graham Crowden as Bill Marsh, Arthur Pentelow as Charlie Bishop. Director: John Davies
  • Footprints in the Jungle
Heather Sears as Margaret Bronson, Ronald Lewis as Reggie Bronson, Edward Petherbridge as Theo Cartwright, James Bolam as Leslie Gaze. Director: Michael Lindsay-Hogg
  • The Alien Corn
Max Adrian as Ferdy Rabenstein, Patience Collier as Hannah, Lady Bland, Faith Brook as Muriel Bland, Sydney Tafler as Sir Adolphus Bland, Gwen Watford as Lea Makart. Director: William Slater
  • The Human Element
Ronald Hines as Humphrey Carruthers, Ann Lynn as Lady Betty, Sean Caffrey as Albert. Director: James MacTaggart
  • Flotsam and Jetsam
Dorothy Tutin as Mrs Grange, Lee Montague as Mr Grange, Julian Holloway as Jack Carr. Director: Claude Whatham

Notes, references and sources


  1. ^ There were two try-out performances by the Stage Society in 1903.[4]
  2. ^ Adaptation of Les Gaîtés du veuvage (1904) by Ernest Grenet-Dancourt.[10]
  3. ^ Though it was staged as Grace, Maugham originally gave the play the title Landed Gentry, under which it was published.[13]
  4. ^ Adaptation of Le bourgeois gentilhomme, written to precede Thomas Beecham's presentation of Ariadne auf Naxos.[16]
  5. ^ The play was staged as Caroline, but Maugham originally gave the play the title The Unattainable, under which it was published.[18]
  6. ^ First seen on Broadway in 1919 under the title Too Many Husbands.[23]
  7. ^ Dramatised by Maugham from his short story of the same name, published in The Casuarina Tree (1926).[30]
  8. ^ Adaptation of La maschera e il volto (1917) by Luigi Chiarelli.[34]


  1. ^ Quoted in Curtis and Whitehead, p. 448
  2. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 17
  3. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 19
  4. ^ a b Mander and Mitchenson, p. 22
  5. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 27
  6. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 48
  7. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 53
  8. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 59
  9. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 60
  10. ^ a b Mander and Mitchenson, p. 66
  11. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 71
  12. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 74
  13. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 104.
  14. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 94
  15. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 100
  16. ^ a b Mander and Mitchenson, p. 105
  17. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 114
  18. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, pp. 142−143.
  19. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 123
  20. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p.143
  21. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 147
  22. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 152
  23. ^ a b Mander and Mitchenson, p. 159
  24. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 163
  25. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 167
  26. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 191
  27. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 195
  28. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 195
  29. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 199
  30. ^ a b Mander and Mitchenson, p. 210
  31. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 205
  32. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 216
  33. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 220
  34. ^ a b Mander and Mitchenson, p.241
  35. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p.245
  36. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 48
  37. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai "W. Somerset Maugham", British Film Institute. Retrieved 16 August 2022
  38. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 66
  39. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 152
  40. ^ Mander and Mitchenson, p. 162
  41. ^ a b c "W. Somerset Maugham", British Film Institute. Retrieved 16 August 2022; and Mander and Mitchenson, pp. 296–297
  42. ^ "W. Somerset Maugham", BBC Genome. Retrieved 16 August 2022


  • Curtis, Anthony; John Whitehead (1987). W. Somerset Maugham: The Critical Heritage. London and New York: Routledge and Kegan Paul. ISBN 978-0-415-15925-8.