Sep. 11, 2009

Writer’s Room: W. Somerset Maugham

Somerset Maugham in his office at Villa Mauresque, Cap Ferrat, 1939

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.

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