W. Somerset Maugham

Author details

Jan. 25, 1874
Dec. 16, 1965

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William Somerset Maugham was born at the British Embassy in Paris, France, where his father was an English lawyer handling the legal affairs of the British embassy. His mother died of tuberculosis while he was young, a death which traumatized him for life. Two years later, his father died of cancer, and he was sent to England to be cared for by his uncle, Henry MacDonald Maugham, the Vicar of Whitstable, in Kent. His uncle was cold and cruel, and the boarding school he attended, The King's School in Canterbury, was also miserable for him. At sixteen, he refused to continue at The King's School and he was allowed to travel to Germany, where he studied literature, philosophy and German at Heidelberg University. In Germany, he wrote his first book, a biography of opera composer Giacomo Meyerbeer, and he met John Ellingham Brooks, with whom he had an affair.

On his return to England he worked in an accountant's office for a month, then returned to Whitstable. His uncle sent him to King's College London to study medicine, although he had been writing since the age of 20 and intended to become an author. He continued writing nightly, and in …

Books by W. Somerset Maugham