W. Somerset Maugham at his desk at the Villa Mauresque, Cap Ferrat, 1939.
The magnificent view was ignored, the writer turning his back to it and facing instead a row of his own leather bound books, so that, in a moment of weakness he could look up and say to himself: “I’ve done it before and I can do it again.” [Link]
Maugham was wildly successful in commercial terms. His home, Villa Mauresque, was “a nine-acre estate on Cap Ferrat, with a staff of 13 to look after him. His art collection alone, in today’s market, would probably fetch more than $100m.” (More photos of the estate are here.) By all accounts Maugham was a contemptible human being, but I loved his books when I was young, particularly The Razor’s Edge and The Moon and Sixpence, and this image pretty well captures how I always imagined Maugham from the voice in his books: the urbane literary man of the world.