William Somerset Maugham was born on 25 January 1874 and was to become a playwright and novelist of staggering talent. Losing both his parents at age 10, he was raised by a paternal uncle. Maugham eventually trained and qualified as a doctor. The first run of his first novel, Liza of Lambeth, published in 1897, sold out so rapidly that Maugham gave up medicine to write full-time. During World War I he was recruited into the British Secret Service. The Moon And Sixpence is one of his greatest works. Told in episodic form it looks into the mind and soul of Charles Strickland, a middle-aged stockbroker who abruptly abandons both wife and children to pursue a career as an artist.