NPG x26713; (John) Beverley Nichols by Bassano

Dearest Beverley,

I feel I must send you my profuse apologies following my review of your book “A Case of Human Bondage”.

While reading the book, with great enjoyment, I accepted your versions of events (which did, after all, include excerpts from your diaries) and felt that you were making a very heart-felt case for the friend you believed had been maligned. However, when preparing my review, and doing a bit of random searching online, I came across an extract from Selina Hastings’ “The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham” which stated clearly that you had fabricated some of your claims. I confess I *was* disappointed and I think my review reflected this.

However, when posting a link to my review yesterday on LibraryThing, I noticed that there was only one other review of ACOHB, by someone who obviously didn’t like it. But – and this is a big but – this review stated quite strongly at the end that Hastings had “confused two separate episodes involving different people, and unfairly charged Nichols with a falsification” (the review is here). Apparently there were *two* incidents that eventful night – the one which involved Gerald and the banknotes, and another which involved Noel Coward surprising you in bed with his boyfriend. That must have been *some* wild night!!

So you *weren’t* being misleading in your book, and you *weren’t* trying to correct a lie with another one – you were simply relating the relevant experience from that fateful night which concerned Willie and Syrie.

And I should have followed my instincts – instead of blindly believing the Hastings book, I should have checked. It didn’t feel right that you would twist events quite so much, and even though you were writing with an agenda, I should have trusted you not to provide complete fabrications.

So I apologise, dear Beverley, and hope that your spirit (wherever it might be!) will forgive a foolish reader – one who has come to love your books and is very, very glad to have been proved rather silly on this occasion!

With fondest love and admiration,


P.S. I have reserved your biography by Bryan Cannon at my local library and shall make sure I check my sources in future!

P.P.S. I further read that Rebecca West described Maugham as “an obscene little toad” when he published “Looking Backwards” and that Graham Greene described the book as “a senile and scandalous work”; so I really think it’s obvious which side I should come down upon!