Monday, 21 March 2011

WRITER, PLAYWRIGHT, MEDIC, SPY - William Somerset Maugham

"There are three rules for writing a novel.  Unfortunately, no one knows what they are."  ~ William Somerset Maugham
William Somerset Maugham was born in the British Embassy in Paris.

By the time he was ten, both William’s parents were dead.

His uncle, a Minister in the Church of England, took him in.

Maugham became a medical student.

His first novel sold well, so he decided to abandon medicine and become a full-time writer.

Maugham found fame when his plays about marriage and manners became popular.

At the age of 40, during WWI, Maugham joined a Red Cross ambulance unit in France and served on the Western Front

Sir John Wallinger, head of Britain’s Military Intelligence (MI6) recruited Maugham act as an agent.  

He acted as a link between MI6 in London and its agents working in Europe.

Between writing and spying, Maugham had time to form long lasting relationships with both men and women.

I should think he found a lot to write about. :D


  1. Wow, that guy sounds awesome. I bet he had so many things he couldn't write about as well!

  2. Hi Abby
    I was fascinated. So much had happened in his life, I can't see him being boring to chat to ;)

  3. Wow. He sounds quite interesting. A spy. Yeah, he should totally have plenty to write about. I love the quote about there are three rules to writing but no one knows what they are. So true.

    Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Hi Angela
    I'm ashamed to say I knew almost nothing about Somerset Maugham except his name and that quote about writing. He has jumped onto my to-be-read list. Perhaps, I'll be able to find a play being staged somewhere.

  5. I read a good recent bio of him last year, which inspired me to read his short stories. He was considered a master of the genre.