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William Somerset Maugham
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William Somerset Maugham

by Carl Van Vechten]]

William Somerset Maugham (January 25, 1874 - December 16, 1965) was an English playwright, novelist and short story writer. Maugham wrote comedies, psychological novels and spy stories (although the latter part of his work is hardly ever seen as belonging to crime fiction proper).

Maugham's masterpiece is generally agreed to be Of Human Bondage, an autobiographical novel which deals with the life of Philip Carey, who, like Maugham, was orphaned and brought up by his pious uncle. Maugham's severe stutter has been replaced by Philip's clubfoot.

In 1917, in New Jersey, Maugham married his mistress, Maud Gwendolen Syrie Barnardo, a daughter of orphanage founder Dr. Thomas Barnardo and former wife of American-born English pharmaceutical magnate Henry Wellcome. (She became celebrated as Syrie Maugham, a noted interior decorator who popularized the all-white room in the 1920s.) Divorced in 1928 after a tempestuous marriage that was complicated by Maugham's homosexuality, they had one daughter, Elizabeth Mary Maugham (a.k.a. Liza) (1915 - 1998).

Somerset Maugham died in Nice, France on December 16, 1965.

Selected Bibliography

Short stories

Somerset Maugham edited and finished the biography of the victorian actor Sir Charles Hawtrey (1858-1923), called The Truth at Last", which was posthumously published in 1924.