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W. Somerset Maugham

  • Highest Rated: 74% The Painted Veil (2006)
  • Lowest Rated: 74% The Painted Veil (2006)
  • Birthday: Invalid date
  • Birthplace: Not Available
  • W. Somerset Maugham, or Somerset Maugham, as he is usually referred to, was perhaps the most respected English author of the 20th century to achieve a major presence in films; not only were many of his novels, short stories, and plays adapted into movies, but Maugham had the distinction of being portrayed on screen twice by Herbert Marshall. William Somerset Maugham was born of English parents in Paris, France, in 1874, and lived in France -- speaking only French -- until he lost both of his parents when he was 11. As an orphan, he was brought back to England by an uncle and attended King's School in Canterbury. Maugham's boyhood was blighted by insecurities, including a stammer that forced him to withdraw from most social interaction -- this was a central motivation for Maugham to become an observer of life, and an author. He later studied in Heidelberg, Germany, with an emphasis on philosophy and literature, and it was during this period that he discovered the homosexual side of his personality, which became still a further source of anxiety and withdrawal. (The prosecution and imprisonment of Oscar Wilde -- then the leading literary light of his day -- for "indecent acts" was a contemporary event and had the effect of driving even the most upper-crust and successful gay men completely underground.)Maugham studied medicine and became a surgeon, spending a year practicing as a physician in some of London's poorest neighborhoods. Already, however, his writing career was manifesting itself in a serious way -- Maugham's first novel, Liza of Lambeth, was published in 1897, when he was 23, and sold well enough to allow him to give up his medical practice. His subsequent books included The Making of a Saint, The Hero, Mrs. Craddock, The Merry-Go-Round, and The Bishop's Apron. In 1903, his first play, A Man of Honour, was unsuccessful, but four years after that, he found success on the London stage with Lady Frederick. Finally hitting his stride as a popular writer, more successful plays and novels like The Explorer , The Magician , Of Human Bondage, On a Chinese Screen, and The Gentleman in the Parlour would soon follow over the coming decades.Maugham's work began reaching the screen in 1915 with The Explorer, and there were such subsequent movie adaptations as Jack Straw (1920), The Ordeal (1922), East of Suez (1925), The Magician (1926), Sadie Thompson (1928), The Letter (1929), Rain (1932), and Of Human Bondage (1934). Maugham was the highest paid author in the world during the 1930s, a decade in which (though he stopped writing plays after 1933) he also enjoyed his heyday on the screen, as adaptations of his writings appeared annually. Some, such as Hitchcock's The Secret Agent, were less than satisfying (though not through any fault of Maugham's), while others, such as The Beachcomber (1938), proved inspired vehicles for their directors and casts, and one, The Letter (1940), proved a Hollywood classic. The Moon and Sixpence came to the screen in 1943 as an independent production and played a peripheral but important role in bringing future producer/director Stanley Kramer into the movie business as a filmmaker; the latter movie also marked the first of two occasions on which Herbert Marshall portrayed the author on the screen. Maugham published his last major novel, The Razor's Edge in 1944. A pacifist work that took place between the two World Wars, and which was partly set in Chicago (where Maugham spent a major part of his stay in America), it was a critical and popular success, and set the stage for a new wave of screen activity. The end of the war saw a new interest in Maugham's work, represented in Hollywood by a poor remake of Of Human Bondage (1946) and a dazzling, ambitious adaptation of The Razor's Edge (1946), starring Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney, and Clifton Webb, with Marshall again portraying the author. British producers began availing themselves of Maugham's short works in the late

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74% The Painted Veil Screenwriter $8M 2006
No Score Yet Quartet Actor Screenwriter 1949
No Score Yet The Moon and Sixpence Screenwriter 1942


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