Segments in this Video

W. Somerset Maugham (01:52)


Maugham was an outsider and often misunderstood, but he was just as fearless as his contemporaries. Maugham traveled to avoid feelings of oppression.

Maugham's Early Years (04:20)

Maugham, the youngest of four boys, was born to English parents in France and raised primarily as an only child; his grandmother was a novelist. He had a strong bond with his mother who died when he was eight; his father died when he was 10. Maugham was sent to live with his uncle Henry Maugham in England.

Maugham's Education (04:21)

Maugham was unhappy at King's School, but did well academically. At 18, he attended school in Heidelberg, Germany, had a sexual relationship with John Ellingham-Brooks, and began writing. Maugham returned to England and studied medicine; his experiences inspired "Liza of Lambeth."

Writing and Theater (08:01)

Maugham wrote more openly about sexual relationships than his contemporaries; Neil Jenman reviews "Mrs. Craddock." Maugham wanted fame and money, and began writing for commercial theater. "Lady Frederick" was a success and made Maugham a sought after playwright.

"Of Human Bondage" (07:32)

Maugham became a wealthy playwright and decided to take a year off and finish his autobiographical novel; it allowed him to work through troubling recollections. The book later became a film.

Universal Works (03:00)

Maugham's novels translated well to other cultures and languages. Enthusiasts created the Japan Maugham Society in Tokyo.

Post-WWI Works (06:28)

Maugham wrote plays until 1930 when he began focusing on short stories. "Sadie Thompson," a story about a prostitute Maugham had met, was retitled "Rain" and became his most popular short story; it later became a film.

Maugham's Love Life (07:08)

Men and women found Maugham attractive, and he had an active interest in sex; Maugham's brother committed suicide. Maugham's affair with Syrie Wellcome resulted in pregnancy and the couple eventually married; Maugham loved Gerald Haxton.

"The Moon and Sixpence" (06:01)

Maugham often left England to visit Haxton and the two began traveling the world. A trip to Tahiti inspired the novel based on Paul Gauguin; it later became a film. Haxton was essential to Maugham's work.

British Spy (03:57)

While living in London, Maugham became involved with the Secret Service. His work inspired several Ashenden stories that later became a film; the stories changed spy fiction.

"Cakes and Ale" (04:00)

On his return from the East, Maugham learned his wife had let the London house; the couple divorced. Maugham moved to France and wrote the novel based on Thomas Hardy and Hugh Walpole. He wrote "The Summing Up" in his mid-60s.

Propaganda and Depression (07:28)

Haxton ran the Villa Mauresque and was Maugham's secretary; boredom led to drinking, gambling, and brothel visits. During WWII, Maugham toured the U.S. and worked on "The Razor's Edge"; it later became a movie. Haxton grew ill and died.

Villa Mauresque (04:00)

Maugham followed a regular routine after his return to France. He enjoyed company, including famous people and his grandchildren, and the garden. Maugham's stutter did not appear when reading a story or giving a speech.

Alan Searle (08:55)

Searle became Maugham's secretary and lover. He wanted to become Maugham's heir and turned him away from his family. Despite Maugham's increasing senility, Searle encouraged him to write a memoir that lambasted Syrie, destroying Maugham's reputation; Maugham died in 1965.

Random House Publishing (04:18)

Russell Perreault created a Facebook page for Maugham in 2008 and it quickly gained followers. Maugham established a literary prize for British writers under the age of 35 in 1947.

Credits: Revealing Mr. Maugham (00:48)

Credits: Revealing Mr. Maugham

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Revealing Mr. Maugham

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $199.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $299.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $199.95



For the first time the full story is told of one of literature's most misunderstood and influential writers --- W. Somerset Maugham, author of Of Human Bondage, The Razors Edge, The Painted Veil, Rain & numerous other classic stories, plays and novels. Somerset Maugham broke all the rules of literature yet became the most successful writer of his age and the world's first millionaire author. Today, his books continue to be read by millions and Somerset Maugham is admired by countless best-selling authors. The program includes interviews with Armistead Maupin, Alexander McCall Smith, Pico Iyer, Alan Furst, Selina Hastings, Ronald Harwood, Nicky Haslam, Camilla Chandon (Somerset Maugham's Granddaughter), Nicolas Paravicini (Somerset Maugham's Grandson) and many more.

Length: 84 minutes

Item#: BVL202965

ISBN: 978-1-64867-447-1

Copyright date: ©2012

Closed Captioned

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