Thursday, November 24, 2016

Birthday Book of the Day: Garson Kanin remembers Somerset Maugham

Garson Kanin- author, actor, director- was born on this date in 1912. He managed to form a longstanding friendship with the much-older colossus of mid-20th-century English writers, Somerset Maugham, who, as Henry Bemis noted on the old man's birthday, was generally a beastly character.

Kanin remembered Maugham in this autographed first edition memoir:


Kanin, Garson, Remembering Mr. Maugham (Athenaeum, 1st ed., 1966). LOC 66-23574. The celebrated American playwright/director’s memories of British writer W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), the most famous short story writer of the 20th century (for the audio of a 1967 Kanin talk about the book, click

Kanin (1912-1999) was a writer and director for stage and screen; with his wife, actress Ruth Gordon (1896-1985) he produced such memorable Tracy-Hepburn classics as Adam’s Rib (1949) and Pat and Mike (1952). Kanin wrote the smash hit Born Yesterday (1946) and directed Barbra Streisand’s Broadway debut in Funny Girl (1964).

Kanin met Maugham in 1935 and they remained friends the rest of Maugham’s very long life. Kanin turned the book into a two man, one-act play that is still performed. Selina Hastings, writing in The Washington Post’s Book World, called Remembering Mr. Maugham “delightfully Boswellian.”

Hardcover, unclipped dust jacket, clear mylar cover, good condition, inscribed to film producer Robert Evans. Evans produced Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and Harold and Maude (1971), both star vehicles for Gordon. Very nice association copy. HBB price: $200.

(This book is not to be confused with the University of Southern California Friends of the Libraries’ 1966 privately printed transcript of an evening of memories and stories of working with W. Somerset Maugham by his friends and co-workers, Ruth Gordon, Clare Booth Luce, George Cukor, Garson Kanin, and Aerol Arnold, under the same title).


Henry Bemis Books is one man’s attempt to bring more diversity and quality to a Charlotte-Mecklenburg market of devoted readers starved for choices. Our website is at For more information about any listed book, or more photos, please contact Lindsay at Henry Bemis Books is also happy to entertain reasonable offers on items in inventory. Shipping is always free; local buyers are welcome to drop by and pick up their purchases at our location off Peachtree Road in Northwest Charlotte if they like. #RareBooks #HenryBemisBooks #GarsonKanin #WSomersetMaugham #RememberingMrMaugham #Autographed #FirstEditions

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