William Somerset Maugham was a Nineteenth/Twentieth Century novelist
When and Where was he Born?
25th January 1874, Paris, France. Christened William Somerset Maugham.
William Somerset Maugham was of Irish origin. He was the sixth and youngest son to the Solicitor at the British Embassy.
King’s School, Canterbury. Heidelberg, Germany where he read philosophy and literature. St. Thomas’s Medical School, London.
Chronology/Biography of William Somerset-Maugham:
1882: Death of his beloved mother of Tuberculosis.
1886: Orphaned at the age of 12. Went to live with his aunt and uncle in Whitstable Kent. This sudden change brought a stammer which was to cause him much grief at school.
1891: Somerset-Maugham spent nine months in Heidelberg attending lectures.
1897: Qualified as a Doctor. Worked in a medical practice in the London slums which gave him material for “Liza of Lambeth” which was graphic in its detail. He never practiced medicine after that and relied on his income of £150 left to him by his father. He traveled to Seville for nine months and wrote a travel book.
1903: “A Man of Honour” was performed by the Stage Society in London.
1907: His fortunes turned upwards when his play “Lady Frederick” became a huge success at the Royal Court Theatre despite it being a last minute inclusion in their programme.
1908: Although Somerset-Maugham’s initial attempts to get his plays published failed he had four works running simultaneously on the London stage by 1908.
1911: Began writing “Of Human Bondage”.
1914: During the first year of the First world War he served with a Red Cross unit in Northern France. He then became an agent in Military Intelligence and moved to Geneva.
1915: Publication of his autobiographical novel “Of Human Bondage”. He traveled to the USA and Tahiti in the company of his boyfriend Gerald Haxton but married Syrie Wellcome on his return.
1917: By now Somerset-Maugham had moved on to Petrograd (St. Petersburg) in Russia attempting to stop the outbreak of the Russian Revolution.
1919: Publication of “The Moon and Sixpence” based on his earlier visits to Tahiti and the Far East.
1927: After his divorce he settled in the south of France at the Villa Mauresque on Cap Ferrat, near Nice. He filled the house with antiques and it became a centre for visiting by the great and the good.
1928: “Ashenden” is based on his experiences in Russia.
1930: Wrote what is considered his masterpiece “Cakes and Ale”.
1939: Somerset-Maugham became a British Agent again during the Second World War.
1940: He fled to the United States where he stayed until 1946 where he was much taken with mysticism.
1944: Death of Gerald Haxton.
1946: Returned to the Villa Mauresque in France where he lived with Alan Searle.
1950: Film version of “Encore” produced with an introduction by the author himself. He had by now become one of the best read and loved writers but did not receive great critical acclaim as he was accused of being predictable and shallow in his work.
1954: Somerset-Maugham made a Companion of Honour.
1962: His book “Looking Back” contained an attack on his ex-wife, now deceased, which lost him a lot of friends.
1897: “Liza of Lambeth.”
1907: “Lady Frederick.”
1915: “Of Human Bondage.”
1919: “The Moon and Sixpence”, “Caesar’s Wife”, “Home and Beauty.”
1921: “The Trembling of a Leaf.”
1925: “The Painted Veil.”
1926: “The Constant Wife.”
1927: “The Letter.”
1928: “The Sacred Flame.”
1930: “Cakes and Ale. “The Breadwinner.”
1938: “The Summing Up.”
1944: “The Razor’s Edge.”
1915 to Syrie Wellcome (divorced 1927).
When and Where Did he Die?
16th December 1965, Nice, France.
Age at Death:
Site of Grave:
Ashes were scattered near the Maugham Library, King’s School, Canterbury, Kent, England.
Places of Interest:
Imperial War Museum.