W. Somerset Maugham – Style Icon

I was given a copy of “The Razor’s Edge” quite a while ago and read it in long stretches during my commute to and from Seattle by ferry boat.  I loved it and still have the book.  I should read it again, I miss the characters.  If anything can be gleamed from the photo of Mr. Maiugham below, one might thing he couldn’t care less if anyone ever read anything he wrote ever again.  I think that is why I like the photo so much.

Born: 25 January 1874 UK Embassy, Paris, France
Died: 16 December 1965 (aged 91) Nice, France
Occupation: Playwright, novelist, short story writer
Notable works: Of Human Bondage, The Letter, Rain, The Razor’s Edge

William Somerset Maugham (25 January 1874 – 16 December 1965) was an English 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.

Popular British novelist, playwright, short-story writer and the highest-paid author in the world in the 1930s, Somerset Maugham graduated in 1897 from St. Thomas’ Medical School and qualified as a doctor, but abandoned medicine after the success of his first novels and plays. During World War I he worked as a secret agent and in 1928 settled in Cap Ferrat in France, from where he made journeys all over the world. Maugham’s spy novel “Ashenden; or The British Agent” (1928) is partly based on his own experiences in the secret service. In making the transition from secret agent to writer, Maugham carried on in the tradition of such classic writers as Christopher Marlowe, Ben Johnson and Daniel Defoe to such contemporary writers as Graham Greene, John le Carré, John Dickson Carr, Alec Waugh and Ted Allbeury. Maugham’s skill in handling plot is compared by critics to that of Guy de Maupassant. In many of Maugham’s novels the surroundings are international and the stories are told in a clear, economical style with a cynical or resigned undertone. Although Maugham was successful as an author he was never knighted and his relationship with Gerald Haxton, his secretary, has been subject to speculation.

At a dinner party one should eat wisely but not too well, and talk well but not too wisely.

Dying is a very dull, dreary affair. And my advice to you is to have nothing whatever to do with it.

Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.

It was such a lovely day I thought it a pity to get up.

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