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William Somerset Maugham

June 5, 2016

William Somerset Maugham

 William Somerset Maugham

English novelist, dramatist and master short story writer, William Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) was born in Paris. After the death of his mother in 1884 and father in 1894, there was no proper home for ten-year-old Willie in Paris and so he was sent to live with his father’s brother in Whitstable, Kent. A more violent change of environment for the Parisian boy is hard to imagine. After a childhood in a carefree, cultivated home, bathed in warmth and affection, he suddenly found himself in the severely quiet home of a middle aged, childless couple, where laughter was seldom heard and religions duties were regarded as laws of nature. It is not surprising that the child was lonely and unhappy.

            His school years were even more wretched when he entered King’s School in Canterbury, only seven miles from Whitstable. He was lonely, frightened and plauged by his shyness and speech defect. Once he became seriously ill, and an examination showed his lungs to be affected. His alarmed guardians, remembering that his mother and an aunt had died of tuberculosis, sent him to Hyeres in the south of France. Here he was happy once more. The sun shone and the days sang again. HE discovered the stories of Maupassant and other French writers he had been too young to read in his early years in France.

            Although unmistakably English in manner and appearance, Maugham had acknowledge, “ It was France that educated me ,France that taught me to value beauty, distinction, wit and good sense, France that taught me to write.” Ha had also said some uncomplimentary things about the French: their meanness and their corruptibility in government and politics.

            In his eighteenth year he joined Heidelberg University. After a brief  period working in an accountant’s office, Maugham studied medicine at St. Thomas’ Hospital, London. Soon after he qualified as a doctor; he never practiced, but he later regretted that he had not devoted three of four years to the medical profession.

            His first novel, Liza of Lambeth (1897), was published and he decided to pursue a literary career. Reviewers of the book praised his literary style, though many people were shocked by the frankness with which Maugham wrote about life in the slums.

            He was never impoverished, but his income was small and he had only.

 

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