Inspiration, Quotes, Productivity and More

86 Brillant Quotes From W. Somerset Maugham

William Somerset Maugham was born on 25 January 1874 at the British Embassy in Paris. He became an orphan at the age of 10 and returned to England where he would be raised by his uncle. He attended King’s School in Canterbury. Somerset Maugham spent a year in Heidelberg, Germany, where he studied literature, philosophy.

A graduate in Medicine and philosophy, Maugham discovered the misery of London through his medical activities. He wrote in length about this experience in his first novels. However, he would abandon medicine and follow this heart to become a globe-trotter writer. He went on to visit Asia, the West Indies and South America.

Somerset Maugham was the undisputed master of fiction. He wrote more than twenty novels such as Of Human Bondage which is a semi-autobiographical account of a medical student, The Moon and Sixpense which is about the life of an unconventional artist, Cakes and Ale which is about of a famous novelist and The Razor’s Edge (1944) which tells the story of an American war veteran’s quest for a satisfying way of life.

His novel, The Painted Veil, depicts the story of a young woman named Kitty Garstin, who, after rejecting dozens of marriage proposals, finds herself marrying an eccentric doctor named Walter Fane. The novel was adapted into a movie in 2007 by John Curran.

Somerset Maugham passed away in Nizza on the 16th of December 1965, leaving behind a wide range of stories and novels which are until today read at schools and universities worldwide.

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Somerset Maugham Quotes

The crown of literature is poetry.

W. Somerset Maugham

The essence of the beautiful is unity in variety.

W. Somerset Maugham

The great American novel has not only already been written, it has already been rejected.

W. Somerset Maugham

The love that lasts longest is the love that is never returned.

W. Somerset Maugham

The most useful thing about a principle is that it can always be sacrificed to expediency.

W. Somerset Maugham

The common idea that success spoils people by making them vain, egotistic and self-complacent is erroneous; on the contrary it makes them, for the most part, humble, tolerant and kind.

W. Somerset Maugham

The world in general doesn’t know what to make of originality; it is startled out of its comfortable habits of thought, and its first reaction is one of anger.

W. Somerset Maugham

People ask for criticism, but they only want praise.

W. Somerset Maugham

The world is quickly bored by the recital of misfortune, and willing avoids the sight of distress.

W. Somerset Maugham

The trouble with young writers is that they are all in their sixties.

W. Somerset Maugham

The artist produces for the liberation of his soul. It is his nature to create as it is the nature of water to run down the hill.

W. Somerset Maugham

The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit.

W. Somerset Maugham

She had a pretty gift for quotation, which is a serviceable substitute for wit.

W. Somerset Maugham

Sentimentality is the only sentiment that rubs you the wrong way.

W. Somerset Maugham

Perfection has one grave defect: it is apt to be dull.

W. Somerset Maugham

Only a mediocre person is always at his best.

W. Somerset Maugham

No egoism is so insufferable as that of the Christian with regard to his soul.

W. Somerset Maugham

Old age is ready to undertake tasks that youth shirked because they would take too long.

W. Somerset Maugham

Old age has its pleasures, which, though different, are not less than the pleasures of youth.

W. Somerset Maugham

The writer is more concerned to know than to judge.

W. Somerset Maugham

Perfection is a trifle dull. It is not the least of life’s ironies that this, which we all aim at, is better not quite achieved.

W. Somerset Maugham

We learn resignation not by our own suffering, but by the suffering of others.

W. Somerset Maugham

My own belief is that there is hardly anyone whose sexual life, if it were broadcast, would not fill the world at large with surprise and horror.

W. Somerset Maugham

It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent.

W. Somerset Maugham

You know what the critics are. If you tell the truth they only say you’re cynical and it does an author no good to get a reputation for cynicism.

W. Somerset Maugham

You are not angry with people when you laugh at them. Humor teaches tolerance.

W. Somerset Maugham

Writing is the supreme solace.

W. Somerset Maugham

When you choose your friends, don’t be short-changed by choosing personality over character.

W. Somerset Maugham

When you are young you take the kindness people show you as your right.

W. Somerset Maugham

When I read a book I seem to read it with my eyes only, but now and then I come across a passage, perhaps only a phrase, which has a meaning for me, and it becomes part of me.

W. Somerset Maugham

You can do anything in this world if you are prepared to take the consequences.

W. Somerset Maugham

What has influenced my life more than any other single thing has been my stammer. Had I not stammered I would probably… have gone to Cambridge as my brothers did, perhaps have become a don and every now and then published a dreary book about French literature.

W. Somerset Maugham

The writer of prose can only step aside when the poet passes.

W. Somerset Maugham

We know our friends by their defects rather than by their merits.

W. Somerset Maugham

We have long passed the Victorian Era when asterisks were followed after a certain interval by a baby.

W. Somerset Maugham

We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.

W. Somerset Maugham

Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.

W. Somerset Maugham

Tolerance is another word for indifference.

W. Somerset Maugham

Things were easier for the old novelists who saw people all of a piece. Speaking generally, their heroes were good through and through, their villains wholly bad.

W. Somerset Maugham

There is no explanation for evil. It must be looked upon as a necessary part of the order of the universe. To ignore it is childish, to bewail it senseless.

W. Somerset Maugham

There are two good things in life – freedom of thought and freedom of action.

W. Somerset Maugham

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

W. Somerset Maugham

What makes old age hard to bear is not the failing of one’s faculties, mental and physical, but the burden of one’s memories.

W. Somerset Maugham

Death is a very dull, dreary affair, and my advice to you is to have nothing whatsoever to do with it.

W. Somerset Maugham

If you want to eat well in England, eat three breakfasts.

W. Somerset Maugham

If you don’t change your beliefs, your life will be like this forever. Is that good news?

W. Somerset Maugham

If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom, and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too.

W. Somerset Maugham

I’ll give you my opinion of the human race in a nutshell… their heart’s in the right place, but their head is a thoroughly inefficient organ.

W. Somerset Maugham

I would sooner read a time-table or a catalogue than nothing at all. They are much more entertaining than half the novels that are written.

W. Somerset Maugham

I made up my mind long ago that life was too short to do anything for myself that I could pay others to do for me.

W. Somerset Maugham

I can imagine no more comfortable frame of mind for the conduct of life than a humorous resignation.

W. Somerset Maugham

Have common sense and stick to the point.

W. Somerset Maugham

Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young.

W. Somerset Maugham

Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.

W. Somerset Maugham

Few misfortunes can befall a boy which bring worse consequence than to have a really affectionate mother.

W. Somerset Maugham

Death doesn’t affect the living because it has not happened yet. Death doesn’t concern the dead because they have ceased to exist.

W. Somerset Maugham

Considering how foolishly people act and how pleasantly they prattle, perhaps it would be better for the world if they talked more and did less.

W. Somerset Maugham

Beauty is an ecstasy; it is as simple as hunger. There is really nothing to be said about it. It is like the perfume of a rose: you can smell it and that is all.

W. Somerset Maugham

At a dinner party one should eat wisely but not too well, and talk well but not too wisely.

W. Somerset Maugham

Anyone can tell the truth, but only very few of us can make epigrams.

W. Somerset Maugham

Any nation that thinks more of its ease and comfort than its freedom will soon lose its freedom; and the ironical thing about it is that it will lose its ease and comfort too.

W. Somerset Maugham

An unfortunate thing about this world is that the good habits are much easier to give up than the bad ones.

W. Somerset Maugham

It is unsafe to take your reader for more of a fool than he is.

W. Somerset Maugham

Money is the string with which a sardonic destiny directs the motions of its puppets.

W. Somerset Maugham

Habits in writing as in life are only useful if they are broken as soon as they cease to be advantageous.

W. Somerset Maugham

It was such a lovely day I thought it a pity to get up.

W. Somerset Maugham

Impropriety is the soul of wit.

W. Somerset Maugham

Marriage is a very good thing, but I think it’s a mistake to make a habit out of it.

W. Somerset Maugham

Love is only a dirty trick played on us to achieve continuation of the species.

W. Somerset Maugham

Like all weak men he laid an exaggerated stress on not changing one’s mind.

W. Somerset Maugham

Let us develop the resources of our land, call forth its powers, build up its institutions, promote all its great interests, and see whether we also, in our day and generation, may not perform something worthy to be remembered.

W. Somerset Maugham

It’s very hard to be a gentleman and a writer.

W. Somerset Maugham

It’s no good trying to keep up old friendships. It’s painful for both sides. The fact is, one grows out of people, and the only thing is to face it.

W. Somerset Maugham

It’s a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.

W. Somerset Maugham

Every production of an artist should be the expression of an adventure of his soul.

W. Somerset Maugham

It wasn’t until late in life that I discovered how easy it is to say “I don’t know.”

W. Somerset Maugham

Men have an extraordinarily erroneous opinion of their position in nature; and the error is ineradicable.

W. Somerset Maugham

It seems that the creative faculty and the critical faculty cannot exist together in their highest perfection.

W. Somerset Maugham

It is well known that Beauty does not look with a good grace on the timid advances of Humour.

W. Somerset Maugham

A man marries to have a home, but also because he doesn’t want to be bothered with sex and all that sort of thing.

W. Somerset Maugham

It is salutary to train oneself to be no more affected by censure than by praise.

W. Somerset Maugham

Money is like a sixth sense without which you cannot make a complete use of the other five.

W. Somerset Maugham

It is not true that suffering ennobles the character; happiness does that sometimes, but suffering for the most part, makes men petty and vindictive.

W. Somerset Maugham

It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it.

W. Somerset Maugham

In the country the darkness of night is friendly and familiar, but in a city, with its blaze of lights, it is unnatural, hostile and menacing. It is like a monstrous vulture that hovers, biding its time.

W. Somerset Maugham

In Hollywood, the women are all peaches. It makes one long for an apple occasionally.

W. Somerset Maugham

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