Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A collection of captivating and thought-provoking tales that delve into the complexities of human nature with Maugham's signature wit and insight.


In "Collected Stories," renowned author W. Somerset Maugham presents a captivating collection of short stories that explores the complexities of human nature and the intricacies of relationships. With his keen observations and insightful storytelling, Maugham delves into the depths of the human psyche, delving into themes of love, desire, betrayal, and the pursuit of happiness. This collection showcases Maugham's impeccable mastery of the short story form, solidifying his reputation as one of the greatest storytellers of the 20th century.

Brief Synopsis

"Collected Stories" is a compilation of various short stories, each offering a unique narrative and perspective. Set in different locations around the world, including England, France, and the Far East, Maugham's stories traverse diverse settings, cultures, and time periods.

The collection begins with "Rain," a story set on a remote island in the South Pacific. It follows a group of travelers, including a missionary and a prostitute, as they grapple with their own moral dilemmas and confront the consequences of their actions.

Throughout the book, Maugham introduces a range of compelling characters, each with their own flaws and desires. From the disillusioned writer in "The Fall of Edward Barnard" to the jaded socialite in "The Letter," the author's characters are flawed and complex, offering a deep exploration of human nature.

Main Characters

Character NameDescription
Sadie ThompsonA prostitute who finds herself stranded on a remote island
Dr. MacPhailA missionary who tries to save Sadie's soul
Edward BarnardA talented writer who struggles with personal demons
ElizabethEdward Barnard's wife who longs for his affection
Leslie CrosbieA socialite who becomes embroiled in a scandalous affair

Summary of Different Story Points Over Chapters


  • Sadie Thompson, a prostitute, finds herself stranded on a remote island in the South Pacific.
  • Dr. MacPhail, a missionary, tries to save Sadie's soul, but she resists his efforts.
  • As tensions rise, tragedy strikes, leading to a shocking conclusion.

The Fall of Edward Barnard

  • Edward Barnard, a talented writer, struggles with personal demons and a lack of inspiration.
  • Elizabeth, Edward's wife, longs for his affection and tries to support him.
  • Edward's life takes a dramatic turn when he encounters a mysterious woman who inspires him but also threatens his marriage.

The Letter

  • Leslie Crosbie, a wealthy socialite, becomes embroiled in a scandalous affair.
  • When her lover threatens to expose their relationship, Leslie takes drastic measures to protect her reputation.
  • The story explores themes of betrayal, deception, and the consequences of one's actions.

Main Events

  1. Sadie Thompson's arrival on the remote island and her encounter with Dr. MacPhail.
  2. The growing tension between Sadie and Dr. MacPhail as they clash over morality and religious beliefs.
  3. The tragic events that unfold, leading to a shocking conclusion in "Rain."
  4. Edward Barnard's struggle with his personal demons and the impact it has on his marriage.
  5. The introduction of the mysterious woman who inspires Edward in "The Fall of Edward Barnard."
  6. The dramatic climax and resolution of Edward's story.
  7. Leslie Crosbie's affair and subsequent attempts to cover up her actions in "The Letter."
  8. The unraveling of Leslie's carefully constructed facade and the consequences she faces.

Themes and Insights

"Collected Stories" explores a multitude of themes, including the complexities of human nature, the consequences of one's actions, the pursuit of happiness, and the fragility of relationships. Maugham offers profound insights into the human condition, shedding light on the darkness that exists within individuals and society as a whole. The stories also delve into themes of morality, religion, and societal expectations, inviting readers to question their own beliefs and values.

Through his vivid storytelling and compelling characters, Maugham reveals the universal struggles and desires that unite humanity. He reminds us that beneath our facades, we all grapple with our own inner conflicts and yearnings, making us both flawed and relatable.

Reader's Takeaway

"Collected Stories" is a captivating collection that showcases W. Somerset Maugham's exceptional storytelling skills and deep understanding of the human psyche. Through his engaging narratives and complex characters, Maugham provides readers with a thought-provoking exploration of the human condition. The book's diverse settings and themes make it a compelling read for anyone seeking to understand the intricacies of human nature and the complexities of relationships. With its timeless insights and universal themes, "Collected Stories" is a must-read for fans of short fiction and literary enthusiasts alike.


"Collected Stories" by W. Somerset Maugham is a captivating collection of short stories that explores the depths of human nature and the complexities of relationships. With his keen observations and insightful storytelling, Maugham takes readers on a journey through diverse settings and time periods, delving into themes of love, desire, betrayal, and the pursuit of happiness. Through the book's compelling characters and thought-provoking narratives, Maugham offers profound insights into the human condition, reminding us of the universal struggles and desires that unite us all. "Collected Stories" is a timeless masterpiece that solidifies Maugham's reputation as one of the greatest storytellers of the 20th century.

Collected Stories FAQ

  1. What is 'Collected Stories' about?

    'Collected Stories' is a compilation of short stories written by W. Somerset Maugham. It covers a wide range of themes and characters, exploring human nature, relationships, and society.

  2. How many stories are included in 'Collected Stories'?

    'Collected Stories' contains a total of 30 short stories, showcasing Maugham's mastery of storytelling and character development.

  3. Are the stories in 'Collected Stories' interconnected?

    No, the stories in 'Collected Stories' are standalone pieces and are not directly connected. Each story presents a unique narrative and set of characters.

  4. What is the writing style of W. Somerset Maugham in 'Collected Stories'?

    Maugham's writing style in 'Collected Stories' is known for its clarity, precision, and attention to detail. He skillfully captures the nuances of human emotions and creates vivid and relatable characters.

  5. Are there any notable stories in 'Collected Stories'?

    Yes, 'Collected Stories' includes several notable stories such as 'Rain', 'The Outstation', 'The Letter', and 'The Alien Corn', among others. Each story offers a unique and engaging reading experience.

  6. Can 'Collected Stories' be recommended for someone who has never read W. Somerset Maugham before?

    Absolutely! 'Collected Stories' serves as an excellent introduction to the works of W. Somerset Maugham. It showcases his storytelling prowess and offers a diverse range of narratives that can captivate both new and existing readers.

  7. Is 'Collected Stories' suitable for all age groups?

    'Collected Stories' is generally suitable for readers of various age groups. However, some stories may contain mature themes and content, so it is recommended for mature readers or those with a specific interest in literary fiction.

  8. Can I expect a variety of genres in 'Collected Stories'?

    Yes, 'Collected Stories' covers a variety of genres, including drama, romance, mystery, and social commentary. This compilation offers a diverse reading experience for those who enjoy exploring different genres within short stories.

  9. Is 'Collected Stories' available in e-book format?

    Yes, 'Collected Stories' is available in e-book format, allowing readers to conveniently access the collection on their e-readers, tablets, or smartphones.

  10. Are there any film adaptations based on the stories from 'Collected Stories'?

    Yes, several stories from 'Collected Stories' have been adapted into films. For example, 'Rain' has been adapted multiple times, and 'The Letter' has also been made into a film. These adaptations showcase the timeless appeal of Maugham's storytelling.