On This Day

The Day Author and Traveler Somerset Maugham Revisited Myanmar

By Wei Yan Aung 30 January 2020

Yangon – On this day 60 years ago, the famous British writer William Somerset Maugham paid his second visit to Myanmar (then Burma), nearly 30 years after he published a travelogue about his adventures in the country.

He stayed at the Strand Hotel Yangon (then Rangoon) and met writers and journalists at the luxury hotel, which opened in 1901.

The 86-year-old said he had no particular reason for visiting the country. He recounted his travels in 1923 when he journeyed from Yangon to Haiphong in Vietnam, first by river to Mandalay, then on horseback through mountains and forests in Shan State to Thailand and onwards by sea.

The book “The Gentleman in the Parlour” details his journey.

The Gentleman in the Parlour is an account of the author’s trip through what was then Burma and Siam, ending in Haiphong, Vietnam.

The Burmese translations of his works “Of Human Bondage”, “The Moon and Sixpence” and his short stories were reprinted several times in Myanmar.

“The Moon and Sixpence”, based on the life of the celebrated painter Paul Gauguin, was welcomed by painters in Myanmar under the military dictator U Ne Win, who discouraged modernism.

The film “Rain: The Story of Sadie Thompson” by Maugham was also a box-office hit in Myanmar. Five years after his visit to Myanmar, the writer died in France.