The definitive biography of one of the twentieth century's greatest writers.
For nearly sixty years Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) was one of the most famous writers in the world. An enormously successful playwright and the author of over a hundred short stories and twenty-one novels several of which are now established classics Maugham expertly concealed a private life. Predominantly homosexual, and deeply in love with the charming but dissolute Gerald Haxton, he made a disastrous marriage to Syrie Wellcome which he would escape by travelling and writing extensively in the Far East. A talented linguist, during both world wars Maugham worked for British Intelligence. In between he moved in literary and theatrical circles in London, New York and Hollywood and entertained lavishly at his luxurious villa in the south of France. Outwardly his life was richly rewarding, but privately he suffered anguish from an unrequited love affair and a shocking final betrayal.
Acclaimed biographer Selina Hastings has had access to Maugham s extensive private correspondence as well as to important family testimony, which sheds a fascinating new light on this complex and extraordinary man.
This steady-eyed biography of an extraordinary, extravagant, generous and bitter artist will not only fascinate its readers but encourage some to go to his work for the first time - Times Literary Supplement, Jeremy Treglown
Hastings' Life of Maugham is pitch-perfect: supple, confident and written with something of the same beady detachment (and enjoyable signature streak of malice) as the great tale-teller himself - Nicholas Shakespeare, Daily Telegraph
Hastings provides a searing emotional history...her closing chapter...is so powerfully written, in places so shocking, as to give a series of physical jolts to the reader. Hastings's book cannot be bettered - Richard Davenport-Hines, Sunday Telegraph
Every so often, a biography appears of such authority and such power that it is more than a chronicle of a human life, it is a work of art...brilliant...such is Selina Hasting's skill that this horrible story is richly enjoyable - A. N. Wilson, Reader's Digest
Engrossing . . . a brilliant evocation - Jackie Wullschlager, Financial Times
The year's best biography by far - Sunday Express
Selina Hastings has coped manfully with the task of summarising Maugham's huge oeuvre without distracting her readers from his long and eventful life - The Oldie
'Supple, confident and written with the same beady detachment shown by the writer himself - Daily Telegraph
Selina Hastings is a writer and literary journalist who worked on the Daily Telegraph for fourteen years, and subsequently became the literary editor for Harpers and Queen. Prior to writing THE SECRET LIVES OF SOMERSET MAUGHAM, she published biographies of Nancy Mitford, Evelyn Waugh and Rosamond Lehmann. Her biography of Waugh won the Marsh biography prize.