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The Bishop’s Apron is one of W. Somerset Maugham’s early novels. It has a curious history of being transferred from one genre to another. The skeleton of the story is already present in the story “Cupid and the Vicar of Swale” (1900), then it was written in 1902 as a novel called Loaves and Fishes; when it failed to find a publisher, Maugham rewrote it into a play of the same name in 1903. However, its fortune didn’t improve and it had to wait for another three years when Maugham, as himself declared, needed money to entertain the extravagance of a certain young person that he rewrote the play into a novel, which became The Bishop’s Apron. As for the play, Loaves and Fishes, it wasn’t produced until 1911, after Maugham had swept the London Theatre off its feet.
According to Selina Hastings, this young person that Maugham was infatuated with is no less than Harry Philips, to whom The Bishop’s Apron was dedicated.
Robert Calder, on the other hand, reserves to use Philips as a witness to Maugham’s diligence to rework the play into novel when they were staying together in Paris.