The Painted Veil

Introduction

The Painted Veil is a 1925 novel by British author W. Somerset Maugham. The title is taken from Percy Bysshe Shelley's sonnet, which begins "Lift not the painted veil which those who live / Call Life".

The novel was first published in serialised form in five issues of Cosmopolitan (November 1924 – March 1925). Beginning in May 1925, it was serialised in the United Kingdom in eight parts in Nash's Magazine.

The biographer Richard Cordell notes that the book was influenced by Maugham's study of science and his work as a houseman at St Thomas' Hospital.[1] In the preface to his book, Maugham tells how the main characters were originally called Lane, but that this was subsequently changed to "Fane", following the success of a libel case against the publishers by a Hong Kong couple with the name of Lane. The couple were awarded £250. To avoid similar problems after A. G. M. Fletcher, the then Assistant Colonial Secretary in Hong Kong, also threatened legal action, the name of the colony was changed to Tching-Yen.[2] Later editions reverted to Hong Kong but the name Fane was kept for all editions.


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