The popular author, Somerset Maugham, published a book of colonial travel in 1930 entitled The Gentleman in the Parlour, an account of his journey through mainland Southeast Asia. In Asia, the interwar period was the high point of the colonial era, but also marked the beginning of the end of Western imperialism. This article offers an interpretation of Maugham’s travelogue in terms of its relationship to British imperialism. Drawing upon the insights of postcolonial and feminist scholarship, it analyses how Maugham used prevailing concepts of gender to convey his sense that British imperial rule in Burma (now Myanmar) was at risk. It is suggested that in pursuing this political agenda, Maugham was able to tap into long-held historical understandings, in the Anglo-Latin tradition, of the connections between gender problems and the decline of empires.