Writers

looked after.jpg

Somerset Maugham

1874-1965

William Somerset Maugham (1874 – 1965) was an English playwright, novelist, and short story writer. He was born at the British embassy in Paris where his father, Robert Ormond Maugham, worked as a lawyer. William became an orphan when he was ten years old. First, his mother, Edith Mary, died of tuberculosis in 1882 and then his father died two years later of cancer.

Young William was then sent to live in England with his paternal Uncle Henry MacDonald Maugham (1828-1897), and his Aunt Sophia, an unhappy experience for him.

As soon as he could, William left home. He was six when he went to Germany to study literature at Heidelberg University. On his return to London, he tried out accountancy and then medicine. During his training to become a medical doctor, Maugham published his first novel, Liza of Lambeth (1897). Maughan went on to become among the most popular writers of his era and reputedly the highest-paid author during the 1930s.Both Maugham's parents died before he was 10, and the orphaned boy was raised by a paternal uncle who was emotionally cold. He did not want to become a lawyer like other men in his family, so he trained and qualified as a physician. His first novel Liza of Lambeth (1897) sold out so rapidly that Maugham gave up medicine to write full-time. During the First World War, he served with the Red Cross and in the ambulance corps before being recruited in 1916 into the British Secret Intelligence Service. He worked for the service in Switzerland and Russia before the October Revolution of 1917 in the Russian Empire. During and after the war, he travelled in India, Southeast Asia and the Pacific. He drew from those experiences in his later short stories and novels.