Somerset Maugham: 16 Quotes


Portrait of William Somerset Maugham
26 May 1934

Bon vivant, raconteur, dandy, and wit, William Somerset Maugham ( 1874- 1965), was probably the most prolific, certainly the most financially successful English writer of the twentieth century. Creator of the spy story in his Ashenden stories and chronicler of sojourns abroad in his travel essays, novelist of character and manners, Maugham dined out on his stories for years, always a sought-after guest for weekend house parties and formal dinners. Here are some of the remarks that earned him his place at table.


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.


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.


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

Somerset Maugham at


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


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.


People ask for criticism, but they only want praise.


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.


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


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


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

Somerset Maugham at


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


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


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


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


Tolerance is another word for indifference.


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.