W. Somerset Maugham (01:52)
Maugham was an outsider and often misunderstood, but he was just as fearless as his contemporaries. Maugham traveled to avoid feelings of oppression.
Maugham's Early Years (04:20)
Maugham, the youngest of four boys, was born to English parents in France and raised primarily as an only child; his grandmother was a novelist. He had a strong bond with his mother who died when he was eight; his father died when he was 10. Maugham was sent to live with his uncle Henry Maugham in England.
Maugham's Education (04:21)
Maugham was unhappy at King's School, but did well academically. At 18, he attended school in Heidelberg, Germany, had a sexual relationship with John Ellingham-Brooks, and began writing. Maugham returned to England and studied medicine; his experiences inspired "Liza of Lambeth."
Writing and Theater (08:01)
Maugham wrote more openly about sexual relationships than his contemporaries; Neil Jenman reviews "Mrs. Craddock." Maugham wanted fame and money, and began writing for commercial theater. "Lady Frederick" was a success and made Maugham a sought after playwright.
"Of Human Bondage" (07:32)
Maugham became a wealthy playwright and decided to take a year off and finish his autobiographical novel; it allowed him to work through troubling recollections. The book later became a film.
Universal Works (03:00)
Maugham's novels translated well to other cultures and languages. Enthusiasts created the Japan Maugham Society in Tokyo.
Post-WWI Works (06:28)
Maugham wrote plays until 1930 when he began focusing on short stories. "Sadie Thompson," a story about a prostitute Maugham had met, was retitled "Rain" and became his most popular short story; it later became a film.
Maugham's Love Life (07:08)
Men and women found Maugham attractive, and he had an active interest in sex; Maugham's brother committed suicide. Maugham's affair with Syrie Wellcome resulted in pregnancy and the couple eventually married; Maugham loved Gerald Haxton.
"The Moon and Sixpence" (06:01)
Maugham often left England to visit Haxton and the two began traveling the world. A trip to Tahiti inspired the novel based on Paul Gauguin; it later became a film. Haxton was essential to Maugham's work.
British Spy (03:57)
While living in London, Maugham became involved with the Secret Service. His work inspired several Ashenden stories that later became a film; the stories changed spy fiction.
"Cakes and Ale" (04:00)
On his return from the East, Maugham learned his wife had let the London house; the couple divorced. Maugham moved to France and wrote the novel based on Thomas Hardy and Hugh Walpole. He wrote "The Summing Up" in his mid-60s.
Propaganda and Depression (07:28)
Haxton ran the Villa Mauresque and was Maugham's secretary; boredom led to drinking, gambling, and brothel visits. During WWII, Maugham toured the U.S. and worked on "The Razor's Edge"; it later became a movie. Haxton grew ill and died.
Villa Mauresque (04:00)
Maugham followed a regular routine after his return to France. He enjoyed company, including famous people and his grandchildren, and the garden. Maugham's stutter did not appear when reading a story or giving a speech.
Alan Searle (08:55)
Searle became Maugham's secretary and lover. He wanted to become Maugham's heir and turned him away from his family. Despite Maugham's increasing senility, Searle encouraged him to write a memoir that lambasted Syrie, destroying Maugham's reputation; Maugham died in 1965.
Random House Publishing (04:18)
Russell Perreault created a Facebook page for Maugham in 2008 and it quickly gained followers. Maugham established a literary prize for British writers under the age of 35 in 1947.
Credits: Revealing Mr. Maugham (00:48)
Credits: Revealing Mr. Maugham
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