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Diana Maltz, editor, Liza of Lambeth

Liza of Lambeth

Diana Maltz, editor

Following the publication of Liza of Lambeth, W. Somerset Maugham would go on to establish himself as one of the best-selling and most prolific novelists of the twentieth century. For all that Liza did not dramatize life in a thieves’ den or depict the poor as atavistic brutes, its honest treatment of working-class pastimes and appetites troubled middle-class readers as much as the bludgeonings and chivings of Arthur Morrison’s violent A Child of the Jago had one year before. Maugham vividly captured a working-class couple’s illicit romance and a neighborhood’s collective surveillance and punishment of the woman’s alleged promiscuity and the man’s marital infidelity. Today, the novel’s treatment of women’s experiences, working-class life, and health and medicine in the Victorian city are freshly relevant.

Diana Maltz is Professor of English at Southern Oregon University.

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