The Moon and Sixpence, one of Maugham's best-known and loved novels, is a fictionalized biography of the artist Paul Gauguin. The stand-in character for Gauguin is Charles Strickland who deserts his wife and children to become a painter. In Paris, he is indifferent to the friendship offered by a fellow artist, Dirk Stroeve; but it is Stroeve and his wife Blanche who take Strickland in when he falls ill. Strickland again devastates those around him by running away with Blanche, who has fallen in love with him. In reality, he has no use for Blanche except as the model for a painting and upon the painting's completion, abandons her as well.
The Moon and Sixpence is one of Maugham's most enduring character studies, it has been read and enjoyed for generations.