W. Somerset Maugham

British playwright, novelist, short story writer W. Somerset Maugham

'William Somerset Maugham, CH was a British playwright, novelist and short story writer. He was among the most popular writers of his era and reputedly the highest paid author during the 1930s. After losing both his parents by the age of 10, Maugham was raised by a paternal uncle who was emotionally cold. Not wanting to become a lawyer like other men in his family, Maugham eventually trained and qualified as a doctor.
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  • 1965
    Age 91
    But, in 1965 Searle inherited £50,000, the contents of the Villa La Mauresque, Maugham's manuscripts and his revenue from copyrights for 30 years.
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  • 1962
    Age 88
    In his 1962 volume of memoirs, Looking Back, he attacked the late Syrie Maugham and wrote that Liza had been born before they married.
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    In 1962 Maugham sold a collection of paintings, some of which had already been assigned to his daughter Liza by deed.
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  • 1954
    Age 80
    In 1954, he was made a Companion of Honour.
  • 1951
    Age 77
    From 1951, some 14 years before his death, his paintings began their exhibition life.
    In 1951, Cornell was a great success playing the lead in his comedy, The Constant Wife.
  • 1950
    Age 76
    He is made up of a dozen people and the greater part of him is myself"—yet in an introduction written for the 1950 Modern Library edition of the work, he plainly states that Walpole was the inspiration for Kear (while denying that Thomas Hardy was the inspiration for the novelist Driffield).
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  • 1948
    Age 74
    Maugham had begun collecting theatrical paintings before the First World War; he continued to the point where his collection was second only to that of the Garrick Club. In 1948 he announced that he would bequeath this collection to the Trustees of the National Theatre.
    Maugham's public view of his abilities remained modest. Toward the end of his career he described himself as "in the very first row of the second-raters". In 1948 he wrote "Great Novelists and Their Novels" in which he listed the ten best novels of world literature in his view.
  • 1946
    Age 72
    In 1946 he returned to his villa in France, where he lived, interrupted by frequent and long travels, until his death.
  • 1944
    Age 70
    After his companion Gerald Haxton died in 1944, Maugham moved back to England.
  • 1940
    Age 66
    By 1940, when the collapse of France and its occupation by the German Third Reich forced Maugham to leave the French Riviera, he was a refugee—but one of the wealthiest and most famous writers in the English-speaking world.
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  • 1928
    Age 54
    Maugham began a relationship with Alan Searle, whom he had first met in 1928.
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  • 1927
    Age 53
    Later, he asked that Katharine Cornell play the lead in the 1927 Broadway version. The play was adapted as a film by the same name in 1929, and again in 1940, for which Bette Davis received an Oscar nomination.
    Dramatised from a story first published in his collection The Casuarina Tree (1924), Maugham's play The Letter, starring Gladys Cooper, had its premiere in London in 1927.
  • 1920
    Age 46
    This was a collection of 58 ultra-short story sketches, which he had written during his 1920 travels through China and Hong Kong, intending to expand the sketches later as a book.
  • 1917
    Age 43
    In June 1917, Maugham was asked by Sir William Wiseman, an officer of the British Secret Intelligence Service (later named MI6), to undertake a special mission in Russia.
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    In May 1917, following the decree absolute, Syrie Wellcome and Maugham were married.
  • 1916
    Age 42
    In 1916, Maugham travelled to the Pacific to research his novel The Moon and Sixpence, based on the life of Paul Gauguin.
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  • 1915
    Age 41
    In September 1915, Maugham began work in Switzerland, as one of the network of British agents who operated against the Berlin Committee, whose members included Virendranath Chattopadhyay, an Indian revolutionary trying to resist colonial Britain's rule of India.
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  • 1914
    Age 40
    By 1914, Maugham was famous, with 10 plays produced and 10 novels published.
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  • 1907
    Age 33
    This changed in 1907 with the success of his play Lady Frederick.
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  • 1897
    Age 23
    Maugham kept his own lodgings, took pleasure in furnishing them, filled many notebooks with literary ideas, and continued writing nightly while at the same time studying for his medical degree. In 1897, he published his first novel, Liza of Lambeth, a tale of working-class adultery and its consequences.
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  • 1882
    Age 8
    Edith's sixth and final son died on 25 January 1882, one day after his birth, on Maugham's eighth birthday.
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  • 1874
    Age 0
    Born on January 25, 1874.
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