John Lithgow’s Broadway show sparks hunt for obscure 1939 short story collection

  The actor’s father, Arthur Lithgow (also an actor and director), read stories aloud from the book at bedtime to his family and Lithgow has that actual well-worn copy in hand during the show, which opened on January 11. Photo credit: Joan Marcus
New York theater-goers are scrambling to find copies of a long forgotten 1939 book of 100 short stories featured prominently in John Lithgow’s one-man Broadway show, Stories by Heart. All copies that were listed on AbeBooks.com have been sold this week at prices ranging from $8 to $120. Only a print on demand version of Maugham’s collection of stories is now available. Arthur Lithgow would act out the stories, making an indelible impression on his son, and John Lithgow returned the favor by reading the book to his father while caring for him in his later years. Somerset Maugham, was a playwright, novelist and short story writer, who enjoyed great popularity between the two world wars. Lithgow’s show is based around Tellers of Tales, a collection of stories selected by English author Somerset Maugham. Wodehouse’s Uncle Fred Flits By. He acts out two short stories from Maugham’s collection – Ring Larder’s Haircut and P.G. John Lithgow performing in Stories by Heart at the Roundabout Theater. Published by Doubleday Doran, Tellers of Tales has been out of print for decades. Maugham (1874-1965), known as W. AbeBooks could have many more copies if they were available. Lithgow – who has won awards for his stage, TV and movie work – is best known for his roles in 3rd Rock from the Sun, The Crown, The World According to Garp, and Terms of Endearment. This PBS interview shows Lithgow with his family’s copy of Tellers of Tales and explaining its significance. There have been numerous film adaptations of his writing. Due to the book’s age and obscurity, it’s likely that only a small number of original copies still exist. Lithgow’s Broadway show is about old-fashioned storytelling and is inspired by those bedtime hours listening to his father. His most famous book is Of Human Bondage, a semi-autobiographical novel.

John Lithgow’s Broadway show sparks hunt for obscure 1939 short story collection