Dreadfully Common: Maugham 'Cakes and Ale' (1930)

Nothing got past the beady-eyes of the censors, who decided a book about literary celebrity was indecent. The vigilantes who policed the bookshops were equally sharp, initiating a prosecution when ‘Cakes and Ale’ was on sale openly.


  • It’s subtitle was ‘The Skeleton in the Cupboard’ hinting that it is about a dirty shameful secret. It’s a great tease isn’t it – what is the skeleton and who’s keeping the cupboard under lock and key?
  • Apparently, Hugh Walpole recognised himself immediately in Alroy Kear. He sat up all night reading it, in tears, with one sock on.
  • In August 1931, C. O’Keeffe a Cork bookseller, was summonsed for ‘exposing a prohibited book for sale’.


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