I Numbered Read and Owned Most Of

Somerset Maugham’s novels and short stories. He first wrote stage plays and said to strive for clarity and then euphony. But in “Cakes and Ale” Maugham made a leap of expression into things heterosexual. At the time I read him, gay life was a sketchy existence hidden mostly by marriage. Rosie in “Cakes and Ale” is a hearty, free wheeler, not an armiger of a male character. I read hints of plagiarism by Ambrose Bierce, but chalked them up as petty jealousies. When I came across Anatole France’s “Penguin Island” I began to collect his works and found Rose. She no longer drank ale but there she is in “The Red Lily” which lays out her every feminine nuance. A line of Maugham’s work describes a rejected lover descending the stairs, after a tryst. It was France’s “The dawn crept up the stairs like a sleepy cat”. (France, 1901). Gods die. Maugham was incapable of writing Rose, he had stolen her.