Liza of Lambeth, W. Somerset Maugham’s first novel, offers insight into the everyday lives of working-class Londoners at the turn of the 20th century. Liza Kemp is an 18-year-old girl working in a factory in the Lambeth slum along London’s Vere Street. As Liza enters into a misguided affair with an older, married man, Jim Blakeston, the novel reveals the tragedies and abuses suffered by those living in poverty. A mood of subdued acceptance of one’s life conditions prevails in this novel, which sparked the literary career of one of England’s most successful authors of the 20th century.
Down among the drab slums of Lambeth, 18-year-old Liza is the darling of Vere Street. Vibrant and bewitching, she is adored by the steady, loyal Tom. But then Liza meets Jim Blakeston, charming and worldly, new to the area, and married. Soon the streets are wise to their passionate affair and Liza's fall from grace is fast and fatal. Written while Maugham was a medical student, and his first published novel, Liza of Lambeth is a vividly realistic portrayal of working-class London life.
William Somerset Maugham's remarkable first novel was such an instant success that the 23-year-old medical student left school to become a full-time author. Liza, a vibrant but poverty-stricken London girl, is the most graceful and daring dancer that anyone has ever seen, wildly moving to the music of the Italian organ player on Old Kent Road. But her bright light begins to dim as the tragic effects of illness and poverty overtake her body, if not her spirit.