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WILLIAM SOMERSET MAUGHAM

 
1874-1965 

PRESENTED BY
UPAKA THE ASCETIC



Somerset Maugham lived a long time; almost one hundred years. He was young in Queen Victoria's England, when the sun never set on the British Empire, Europe was the center of the civilized world, and the horse drawn carriage was the preferred mode of transportation. He lived to see the collapse of the great colonial empires, the rise of America, and to fly in an airplane. He seems to have taken it all in with his usual phlegmatic demeanor.

William Somerset Maugham
by Edouard MacAvoy 

 










W. Somerset Maugham was born in Paris as the sixth and youngest son of the solicitor to the British embassy. He learned French as his native tongue. At the age of 10 Maugham was orphaned and sent to England to live with his uncle, the vicar of Whitestable

 





Educated at King's School, Canterbury, and Heidelberg University in Germany, Maugham then studied six years medicine in London. He qualified in 1897 as a doctor from St. Thomas' medical school.

 



He abandoned medicine after the success of his first novels and plays but he studied the craft of writing as assiduously as he had medicine, often writing out passages of other novelists. He never owned a typewriter but wrote everything by hand. He eventually developed a habit of writing four hours each morning.

 














Maugham then lived in Paris for ten years as a struggling young author. In 1897 his first novel, LIZA OF LAMBERT appeared. His first play, A MAN OF HONOUR was produced in 1903. Four of his plays ran simultaneously in London in 1904. 

 


Maugham's breakthrough novel was the semi-autobiographical OF HUMAN BONDAGE (1915), which is usually considered his outstanding achievement. It made him the most popular author of his time. During World War I he was a volunteer ambulance driver, one of the so called Literary Ambulance Drivers of the day. In 1928 he purchased Mauresque (a word meaning 'of Moorish style'), a villa on the Riviera in the south of France overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. In the early part of 1938 Maugham Travels in India, meeting Sri Ramana Maharshi, who he later used as a model for the holy man in his novel The Razor's Edge. As the the Nazi military juggernaut thrust across the border into France, Maugham, like thousands of others, was forced to become a refugee, albeit, a fairly well off refugee. Under the auspices of his American publisher Nelson Doubleday, he settled in the United States for the duration of the war, first in South Carolina then in Hollywood, California. With the end of hostilities he returned to Mauresque and it remained his home till the end of his days.

 


W. Somerset Maugham lived to be 91 years of age. He passed away December 16th, 1965. He had lived in Victorian England, turn of the century America, Europe between the wars, and seen the invention of movies, radio, and television --- briefly summing it all up somewhat with his own words in Looking Back. All the while he traveled the world, rubbed shoulders with the richest and the most famous people of the day, put together a private art colletion of Impressionist paintings that was the envy of all who saw it, and observed the human condition in all its myriad forms.



SEE OTHER BIOGRAPHIES:

W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM: A BIOGRAPHY


MAUGHAM



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BESTSELLING NOVELS OF THE 20th CENTURY: The Razor's Edge




ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT IN A NUTSHELL




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FROM THE ORIGINAL
WITH THANKS TO:

RICK BATEMAN
THE W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM CENTER
(NO LONGER ACTIVE)