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British and Commonwealth Literary Studies

William Somerset Maugham Collection

The Collections

Stanford has several collections that contain original manuscripts, correspondence, and other archival materials related to William Somerset Maugham.

Location of All Collections: Department of Special Collections, Green Library

Research Access and Use: Materials in the Department of Special Collections are non-circulating and must be used in the Special Collections' Reading Room in the Cecil H. Green Library. The Reading Room is open 10:00am to 5:00pm Monday through Friday. Photocopies, photographs, and microfilm can be made of some materials in the collections. For more information about the collections and access policies, please contact Special Collections by telephone at (650) 725-1022, by electronic mail at or by regular mail at the Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, California 94305-6004.

Career of William Somerset Maugham (1874 - 1965)

British playwright, novelist, and short story writer, William Somerset Maugham was born in Paris in 1874, and studied medicine at Heidelburg University. His first novel, Liza of Lambeth (1897), was not well received nor was his first collection of short stories, Orientations (1899), but he later achieved popular acclaim as a playwright with the production of Lady Frederick (1907), and by end of the following year he had four plays running in London. He succeeded with his next attempt at fiction, Of Human Bondage (1915), based on his experiences while studying medicine in Heidelburg. After serving in the British Intelligence Service in World War I, Maugham began traveling around the world. He continued to write, basing his work on the people and places he encountered in his travels, frequently using a novelist as his narrator. His eleven subsequent novels include The Moon and Sixpence (1919), Cakes and Ale (1930), and The Razor's Edge (1944). He turned from fiction to autobiography and reminiscence with The Summing Up (1938), A Writer's Notebook (1952), and Points of View (1958).

William Somerset Maugham Collection, 1921-1979 (inclusive), 1921-1958 (bulk)
2.5 linear ft.(600 items)
Call Number: M0013
Content: This collection consists mainly of W. Somerset Maugham's correspondence with Bertram Alanson, dating from 1921 through 1958 when Alanson died. Alanson was both Maugham's investment consultant and personal friend. The letters are very revealing about Maugham's activities, his philosophy, his works.
There is additional correspondence to Alanson; some concerning Maugham and some are written by members of Maugham's family.
Finding Guide: A printed version is available in the reading room of the Department of Special Collections. Electronic versions of this finding guide are also available. If you have Microsoft's Internet Explorer version 6.0 or higher, click here to connect to the XML version on the Stanford server; if not, click here for the html version on the Online Archives of California server.

William Somerset Maugham. Papers, 1958, 1962
2 items.
Call Number: Misc 022
Content: includes a typed contract with Columbia Records, 1958, and letter to Lord Beaverbrook ("Max"), 1962.

William Somerset Maugham. Complete Short Stories, author's proof copies with corrections, 1951
4 v. in 2.
Call Number: M0847
Content: Proof copies of the book, The Complete Short Stories of W. Somerset Maugham (1951) with handwritten notations.

William Somerset Maugham. Trio : screenplay, ca. 1950
167 p.
Content: A mimeographed, unpublished post-production script; the only film on which Maugham himself worked. R.C. Sherriff and Noel Langley assisted with the screen adaptation.

William Somerset Maugham. Playscripts from the Charles Frohman Collection
3 items.
Call Number: M0438
Content: Playscripts for the three Maugham plays: Mrs. Dot, 1910; Our Betters, 1923; and Smith, n.d.

William Somerset Maugham. Twenty Days in a Ship : draft and final form of a radio broadcast, 1940 July 22
16 p.
Call Number: Misc 212
Content: Overseas transmission #111, which describes the English refugees who left the French Riviera and returned to England on a small boat.

William Somerset Maugham. Letters, 1946 and n.d., to Anthony Weymouth
2 items.
Call Number: Misc 213
Content: The letters make mention of his planned return to France, his brother's health, etc.

William Somerset Maugham. Letters, 1953, to Dr. Geikie Cobb
2 items.
Call Number: Misc 214
Content: The letters make mention of his health and note that he enjoyed Geikie Cobb's new mystery.

Last modified: July 14, 2006

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