“The Letter” is a short story published as part of Somerset Maugham’s 1926 collection, The Casuarina Tree. Like many of Maugham’s tales, this fictional story was inspired by a rea life event. Maugham came to know the details of the murder that became the basis for “The Letter” through a Singapore newspaper article published in April 1911. Allowing the reality to gestate in his imagination for the next fifteen years or so produced one of his most often-adapted works of literature.
In 1925, a dramatic stage play based on the short story premiered at the Playhouse London and ran for 338 performances. The first film version based on Maugham’s story appeared in 1929. The most famous film adaptation appeared eleven years later and earned seven Academy Award nominations, including one for Bette Davis as Best Actress. A highly regarded 1982 made-for-TV movie picked up three Emmy Awards.