|Real Name:||William Somerset Maugham|
|Birth Day:||January 25, 1874|
|Death Date:||16 December 1965(1965-12-16) (aged 91)
Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, France
|Birth Place:||Paris, British|
As per our current Database, William Maugham died on 16 December 1965(1965-12-16) (aged 91)
Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, France.
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Edith's sixth and final son died on 25 January 1882, one day after his birth. It was Maugham's eighth birthday. Edith died of tuberculosis six days later on 31 January at the age of 41. The early death of his mother left Maugham traumatized. He kept his mother's photograph at his bedside for the rest of his life. Two years after Edith's death, Maugham's father died in France of cancer.
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. It drew its details from Maugham's experiences as a medical student doing midwifery work in Lambeth, a South London slum. Maugham wrote near the opening of the novel: "... it is impossible always to give the exact unexpurgated words of Liza and the other personages of the story; the reader is therefore entreated with his thoughts to piece out the necessary imperfections of the dialogue."
The writer's life allowed Maugham to travel and to live in places such as Spain and Capri for the next decade, but his next ten works never came close to rivalling the success of Liza. This changed in 1907 with the success of his play Lady Frederick. By the next year, he had four plays running simultaneously in London, and Punch published a cartoon of Shakespeare biting his fingernails nervously as he looked at the billboards.
By 1914, Maugham was famous, with 10 plays produced and 10 novels published. Too old to enlist when the First World War broke out, he served in France as a member of the British Red Cross's so-called "Literary Ambulance Drivers", a group of some 24 well-known writers, including the Americans John Dos Passos, E. E. Cummings, and Ernest Hemingway.
Maugham returned to Britain from his ambulance unit duties in order to promote Of Human Bondage. With that completed, he was eager to assist the war effort again. As he was unable to return to his ambulance unit, Syrie arranged for him to be introduced to a high-ranking intelligence officer known as "R"; he was recruited by John Wallinger. 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. Maugham lived in Switzerland as a writer.
In 1916, Maugham travelled to the Pacific to research his novel The Moon and Sixpence, based on the life of Paul Gauguin. This was the first of his journeys through the late-Imperial world of the 1920s and 1930s that inspired his novels. He became known as a writer who portrayed the last days of European colonialism in India, Southeast Asia, China and the Pacific, although the books on which this reputation rests represent only a fraction of his output. On this and all subsequent journeys, he was accompanied by Haxton, whom he regarded as indispensable to his success as a writer. Maugham was painfully shy, and Haxton the extrovert gathered human material which the author drew from for his fiction.
In May 1917, following the decree absolute, Syrie Wellcome and Maugham were married. Syrie Maugham became a noted interior decorator who in the 1920s popularized "the all-white room". They changed their daughter's surname, originally registered as Wellcome and reflecting Syrie's marriage. She was familiarly called Liza and her surname was changed to Maugham.
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. It was part of an attempt to keep the Provisional Government in power and Russia in the war, by countering German pacifist propaganda. Two and a half months later, the Bolsheviks took control. Maugham subsequently said that if he had been able to get there six months earlier, he might have succeeded. Quiet and observant, Maugham had a good temperament for intelligence work; he believed he had inherited from his lawyer father a gift for cool judgment and the ability to avoid being deceived by facile appearances.
Maugham used his spying experiences as the basis for Ashenden: Or the British Agent, a collection of short stories about a gentlemanly, sophisticated, aloof spy. This character is considered to have influenced Ian Fleming's later series of James Bond novels. In 1922, Maugham dedicated his book On A Chinese Screen to Syrie. 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.
In 1926, Maugham bought the Villa La Mauresque, on 9 acres (3.6 hectares) at Cap Ferrat on the French Riviera. It was his home for most of the rest of his life. There he hosted one of the great literary and social salons of the 1920s and 30s. He continued to be highly productive, writing plays, short stories, novels, essays and travel books. 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.
Maugham's play The Letter, starring Gladys Cooper, had its premiere in London in 1927. Later, he asked that Katharine Cornell play the lead in the 1927 Broadway version. He had adapted it for the stage from a story published in 1924 in Hearst's International; it was reprinted in his collection The Casuarina Tree (1926).
In that period, Maugham began a relationship with Alan Searle, whom he had first met in 1928. A younger man from the London slum area of Bermondsey, Searle had previously embarked upon an affair with the writer Lytton Strachey. He proved a devoted (if not a stimulating) companion. He was a jocular character, always engaging but could be mischievous. One of Maugham's friends, describing the difference between Haxton and Searle, said simply: "Gerald was vintage, Alan was vin ordinaire."
The play was adapted as a film by the same name in 1929. Jeanne Eagels had the lead. A second film adaptation was released in 1940, starring American actress Bette Davis, who was nominated for an Oscar as Best Actress for her performance. In 1951, Katherine Cornell was a great success playing the lead in Maugham's comedy The Constant Wife.
Commercial success with high book sales, successful theatre productions and a string of film adaptations, backed by astute stock market investments, allowed Maugham to live a very comfortable life. Small and weak as a boy, Maugham had been proud even then of his stamina, and as an adult he kept churning out the books, proud that he could. Yet, despite his triumphs, he never attracted the highest respect from the critics or his peers. Maugham attributed this to his lack of "lyrical quality", his small vocabulary, and failure to make expert use of metaphor in his work. In 1934 the American journalist and radio personality Alexander Woollcott offered Maugham some language advice: "The female implies, and from that the male infers." Maugham responded: "I am not yet too old to learn."
During this time he met Frederick Gerald Haxton, a young San Franciscan, who became his companion and lover until Haxton's death in 1944. Throughout this period, Maugham continued to write. He proofread Of Human Bondage at a location near Dunkirk during a lull in his ambulance duties.
The marriage was unhappy, and the couple separated. Maugham later lived in the French Riviera with his partner Gerald Haxton until Haxton's death in 1944. He next lived with Alan Searle until his own death in 1965.
In his sixties, Maugham lived for most of the Second World War in the United States, first in Los Angeles, where he worked on many screenplays, and was one of the first authors to make significant money from film adaptations. He later lived in the South. While in the US before that country's entry into the war, he was asked by the British government to make patriotic speeches to induce the US to aid Britain, if not necessarily become an allied combatant. After his companion Gerald Haxton died in 1944, Maugham returned to England. In private, Maugham espoused antisemitic conspiracy theories about Jewish refugees, noting that "the Gestapo is known to have had spies among refugees, and these have not seldom been Jews". After the war, in 1946 Maugham returned to his villa in France. He lived there until his death, with time away for frequent and long travels.
Two of his later novels were based on historical people: The Moon and Sixpence is about the life of Paul Gauguin; and Cakes and Ale contains what were taken as thinly veiled and unflattering characterisations of the authors Thomas Hardy (who had died two years previously) and Hugh Walpole. Maugham himself denied any intention of doing this in a long letter to Walpole: "I certainly never intended Alroy Kear to be a portrait of you. 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). Maugham's last major novel, The Razor's Edge (1944), was a departure for him in many ways. While much of the novel takes place in Europe, its main characters are American, not British. The protagonist is a disillusioned veteran of the First World War who abandons his wealthy friends and lifestyle, travelling to India seeking enlightenment. The story's themes of Eastern mysticism and war-weariness struck a chord with readers during the Second World War. It was adapted into a major motion picture, released in 1946, starring Tyrone Power as Larry Darrell, with Herbert Marshall as W. Somerset Maugham. Another film adaptation was issued in 1984, starring Bill Murray.
In 1947 Maugham instituted the Somerset Maugham Award, awarded to the best British writer or writers under the age of thirty-five for a work of fiction published in the past year. Notable winners include V. S. Naipaul, Kingsley Amis, Martin Amis and Thom Gunn. On his death, Maugham donated his royalties to the Royal Literary Fund.
Maugham's public view of his abilities remained modest. Towards 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" [also known as "Ten Novels and Their Authors" and "The Art of Fiction"], in which he listed the ten best novels of world literature in his view.
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. From 1951, some 14 years before his death, his paintings began their exhibition life. In 1994 they were placed on loan to the Theatre Museum in Covent Garden.
Maugham was appointed a Companion of Honour in the 1954 Birthday Honours.
In 1962 Maugham sold a collection of paintings, some of which had already been assigned by deed to his daughter Liza. She sued her father and won a judgment of £230,000. Maugham publicly disowned her; by that time his mental health had deteriorated and been brought into question by his family. In order to break all ties he claimed Liza was not his biological daughter and he adopted Searle as his son and heir, but the adoption was annulled. In his 1962 volume of memoirs, Looking Back, he attacked the late Syrie Maugham and wrote that Liza had been born before they married. The memoir cost him several friends and exposed him to much public ridicule. Liza and her husband Lord Glendevon contested the change in Maugham's will in the French courts, and it was overturned.
But after Maugham's death, in 1965 Searle inherited £50,000, the contents of the Villa La Mauresque, Maugham's manuscripts, and his revenue from copyrights for 30 years. Thereafter the copyrights passed to the Royal Literary Fund.
There is no grave for Maugham. His ashes were scattered near the Maugham Library, The King's School, Canterbury. Liza Maugham, Lady Glendevon, died aged 83 in 1998, survived by her four children (a son and a daughter by her first marriage to Vincent Paravicini, and two more sons to Lord Glendevon). Among her grandchildren is Derek Paravicini, who is a musical prodigy and autistic savant.
Currently, William Maugham is 149 years, 4 months and 15 days old. William Maugham will celebrate 150th birthday on a Thursday 25th of January 2024.
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