MAUGHAM, W. Somerset

(1874 - 1965)
“It has amused me to tell stories and I have told a great many” 

Born in the British Embassy in Paris, William Somerset Maugham was orphaned at a young age and sent to live with his emotionally cold Uncle, the Rev. Henry Maugham in Whitstable, Kent.  His uncertain English and French accent, (he had grown up with French as his first language) and short stature led to a miserable time at King’s School, Canterbury, which in turn led to a marked stammer, and he subsequently developed an acerbic wit [which he carried on into his writing] as a defence mechanism. 

Not wanting to follow the rest of his family into practicing law, he studied medicine at St Thomas’s Hospital, graduating in 1897.  Living and working in Lambeth gave him the material for his first novel, Liza of Lambeth, in which he depicted the life and death of a factory girl at the turn of the century in graphic detail.  The book’s success encouraged Maugham to turn to writing as a full time career and he wrote several novels, short stories and plays in quick succession.  In 1907 his play Lady Frederick became a huge success and by 1908 he had four plays running simultaneously in London.  He began writing what was to become his most famous novel, Of Human Bondage in 1911 although its completion was interrupted by the outbreak WWI when he joined a Red Cross ambulance unit in France.  Although often considered an autobiographical novel, Maugham wrote of it  "This is a novel, not an autobiography, though much in it is autobiographical, more is pure invention.".  He considered himself to have an acute power of observation and he used his experiences in military intelligence during WWI and his travels through the South Pacific Islands, to write Ashenden and The Moon and Sixpence.  After the war Maugham moved to the south of France with his long term lover Gerald Haxton, and he continued to write novels, short stories, plays and prose non-fiction for the next thirty years, all with a great deal of success.

Maugham was one of the most popular writers of his day, and his enormous commercial success in terms of book sales, theatre productions and film adaptations enabled him to fund what was an undoubtedly lavish and dissolute lifestyle, which he enjoyed to the full to the end of his life.

Writing succinct obervational novels in a time of Modernism, Maugham never really received true critical acclaim, but on his eightieth birthday he received a dinner in his honour at the Garrick Club – only Dickens, Trollope and Thackeray had previously been accorded this distinction.

In 1947 he created the Somerset Maugham Award for the best young British writer of fiction published in the past year. In 1954 he was made a Companion of Honour for his services to literature.

Please scroll down to see our current stock of first editions and signed copies by Maugham.


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Books by this author

The Narrow Corner

MAUGHAM, W. Somerset

£600.00

Cakes and Ale

MAUGHAM, W. Somerset

£650.00

The Unknown

MAUGHAM, W. Somerset

£85.00

Our Betters

MAUGHAM, W. Somerset

£75.00

Penelope

MAUGHAM, W. Somerset

£150.00

Lady Frederick

MAUGHAM, W. Somerset

£150.00

East of Suez

MAUGHAM, W. Somerset

£75.00

Of Human Bondage

MAUGHAM, W. Somerset

£3,500.00