I found this 1944 Life Magazine article displayed at the lovely Colonial Inn on Martha’s Vineyard. It’s an interesting look at a successful author’s life on the Vineyard during WWII. At the time of his visit, he was “the most prolific and financially successful living writer in the English language – second only to Churchill as the most famous Englishman in the world.”
Maugham’s take on post-WWII America in The Razor’s Edge is interesting and relevant today: That tumultuous conglomeration of humanity, distracted by so many conflicting interests…so wistful of good, so cocksure on the outside, so diffident within, so kind, so hard…so mean and so generous–the people of the U.S.
The American people seemed to dote on the 70 year old Maugham, on Martha’s Vineyard, at least, where the article says admirers invariably surround him–sometimes girls, more often elderly ladies who try unsuccessfully to corral him for cocktails. By elderly, did the author mean women his own age? Who wouldn’t be clamoring to hang out with Maugham with that porcupine frieze hair?
He attended the premiere of the film adapted from his novel The Moon and Sixpence at the Edgartown Playhouse, the first such gala on the Vineyard. “The skies were dark under the wartime dim-out in effect on the Island and the setting was modest, but the audience glittered with the Hollywood producers and mainland press.”
A Vineyard reporter wrote of Maugham’s visits: “This island, more than most places of the earth, takes pride in its visitors – which is perhaps an Island prerogative.” Still true today over 60 years later.