William Somerset Maugham Biography

William Somerset Maugham Biography

William Somerset Maugham was an English playwright, novelist and short story writer, reputed to be the highest paid author during 1930’s.  His plays, novels and short stories spanned the entire gamut of human relations and emotions, earning him success as a writer.

Born: January 25, 1874, Paris, France
Died: December 16, 1965, Nice, France
Spouse: Syrie Maugham (m. 1917–1929)
Movies: The Painted Veil, Quartet, Miss Sadie Thompson, More
Plays: The Constant Wife, For Services Rendered, The Letter, The Sacred Flame, The Bread-Winner, Sheppey

Early Life

William S Maugham was born on 25th December 1874, in France, to Robert Ormond Maugham, a wealthy lawyer at the British Embassy in France and Edith Mary, a socialite and writer.  William was orphaned at the age of 10 and was sent to England to live with his uncle Reverend Henry Maugham.  William Maugham attended King’s School in Canterbury.  Later he went to Heidelberg University in Germany and here he wrote his first book, a biography of opera singer Giacomo Meyerbeer.

After his return from Germany, William spent the next five years training to be a doctor at St. Thomas Hospital, London. 

Career

Though William’s inclination was never towards medicine, this experience helped him pen his second book Liza of Lambeth.  The book received favorable reviews and was a runway bestseller, which prompted William to drop medicine and take up writing as a full time career, which spanned 65 long years.  Taking up travel, William continued to write and tasted success with his 1907 play Lady Fredrick.  By the next year he had four successful plays running.  By1914, William Maugham had 10 plays and 10 novels to his credit.  When World War broke out, William volunteered as an ambulance driver and also worked for British Intelligence.  During this time William’s best work, the Homan Bondage 1925, was published.   This success was followed by The Moon and Sixpence, William Maugham’s experience in British Intelligence resulted in Ashenden or the British Agent (1928) a forerunner to the James Bond stories.

In 1928, William Maugham shifted base to the French Riviera. During his stay here he wrote numerous short stories, essays amongst which are Cakes and Ale(1930), The Narrow Corner (1932), Don Fernando(1935), his autobiography which is considered a text for creative writing the Summing Up(1938), Up at the Villa (1941), The Razor’s Edge (1944),Then and now (1946), Creatures of Circumstances (1947), Catalina (1948) among others.

Achievements

  • William Maugham received the Queen’s Companion of Honor 1954
  • Fellow of the Library of Congress, Washington DC
  • Honorary Doctorate from the University of Toulouse, France.
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

William Somerset Maugham died in France on 16th December, 1965.

Quotes

“A woman can forgive a man for the harm he does her, but she can never forgive him for the sacrifices he makes on her account”
- William Somerset Maugham

“A woman may be as wicked as she likes, but if she isn't pretty it won't do her much good”
- William Somerset Maugham

“Beauty is something wonderful and strange that the artist fashions out of the chaos of the world in the torment of his soul”
- William Somerset Maugham

“Common sense and good nature will do a lot to make the pilgrimage of life not too difficult”
- William Somerset Maugham

“Dying is a very dull, dreary affair. And my advice to you is to have nothing whatever to do with it.”
- William Somerset Maugham

“Every production of an artist should be the expression of an adventure of his soul.”
- William Somerset Maugham

“Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.”
- William Somerset Maugham

“I don't know why it is that the religious never ascribe common sense to God”
- William Somerset Maugham

“I would sooner read a timetable or a catalog than nothing at all.”
- William Somerset Maugham

“If you don't change your beliefs, your life will be like this forever. Is that good news?”
- William Somerset Maugham

“Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young.”
- William Somerset Maugham

“It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it.”
- William Somerset Maugham

“It's a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.”
- William Somerset Maugham

“It's no good crying over spilt milk, because all the forces of the universe were bent on spilling it”
- William Somerset Maugham

“It's no good trying to keep up old friendships. It's painful for both sides. The fact is, one grows out of people, and the only thing is to face it.”
- William Somerset Maugham

“Love is only the dirty trick played on us to achieve continuation of the species.”
- William Somerset Maugham

“Love is what happens to a man and woman who don't know each other”
- William Somerset Maugham

“Marriage is a very good thing, but I think it's a mistake to make a habit out of it.”
- William Somerset Maugham

“Money is like a sixth sense - and you can't make use of the other five without it”
- William Somerset Maugham

“No man in his heart is quite so cynical as a well-bred woman”
- William Somerset Maugham

“The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit.”
- William Somerset Maugham

“The crown of literature is poetry.”
- William Somerset Maugham

“The essence of the beautiful is unity in variety.”
- William Somerset Maugham

“The love that lasts the longest is the love that is never returned.”
- William Somerset Maugham

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knowswhat they are.”
- William Somerset Maugham

“There are two good things in life freedom of thought and freedom of action”
- William Somerset Maugham

“There is hardly anyone whose sexual life, if it were broadcast, would not fill the world at large with surprise and horror.”
- William Somerset Maugham

“To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all of the miseries of life.”
- William Somerset Maugham

“To write simply is as difficult as to be good”
- William Somerset Maugham

“Tolerance is another word for indifference.”
- William Somerset Maugham

“We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.”
- William Somerset Maugham

“We know our friends by their defects rather than by their merits.”
- William Somerset Maugham

“What makes old age hard to bear is not the failing of one's faculties, mental and physical, but the burden of one's memories”
- William Somerset Maugham

“Women's hearts are like old china, none the worse for a break or two”
- William Somerset Maugham

“Writing is the supreme solace.”
- William Somerset Maugham

“You know, of course, that the Tasmanians, who never committed adultery, are now extinct”
- William Somerset Maugham


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