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Cakes and Ale: or, the Skeleton in the Cupboard (1930) is a novel by British author William Somerset Maugham. It is often alleged to be a thinly-veiled roman à clef examining contemporary novelists Thomas Hardy (as Edward Driffield) and Hugh Walpole (as Alroy Kear) -— though Maugham maintained he had created both characters as composites and in fact explicitly denies any connection to Hardy in his own introduction to later editions of the novel. Maugham exposes the misguided social snobbery leveled at the character Rosie Driffield (Edward's first wife), whose frankness, honesty and sexual freedom make her a target of conservative propriety. Her character is treated favorably by the book's narrator, Ashenden, who understands her sexual energy to be a muse to the many artists who surround her.
Maugham drew his title from the remark of Sir Toby Belch to Malvolio in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night: "Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?" Cakes and ale are the emblems of the good life in the tagline to the fable attributed to Aesop, "The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse": "Better beans and bacon in peace than cakes and ale in fear".