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William Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) is a British playwright, novelist and short story writer. Born in Paris, he trained and qualified as a physician. While serving with the Red Cross in World War I, he was recruited into the British Secret Service in 1916. His medical knowledge and travel experiences after the war around the world influenced his later short stories and novels including The Painted Veil, written in 1935.
The title “The Painted Veil” is taken from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s sonnet which begins, “Lift not the painted veil which those who live call Life.” Set in England and China during the 1920’s, the story is told through Kitty Fane. When her husband, a bacteriologist, discovers her infidelity, he forces her to accompany him into a cholera epidemic in the interior of China. Stripped of all friends and society contact, Kitty is forced to reassess her life.
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