William Somerset Maugham's mother died in 1882, when he was only eight years old, and his father died two years later. William was sent to his paternal uncle, Henry MacDonald Maugham, who was a vicar. According to Wikipedia,

The move was emotionally damaging, as Henry Maugham was cold and emotionally cruel.[citation needed]

According to Selina Hastings, author of The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham: A Biography, William Somerset Maugham was very unhappy at his uncle's home and later used this as a source of inspiration for his novel Of Human Bondage (emphasis mine):

The memory of the deep unhappiness suffered there weighed on Maugham for many years and provided the inspiration for this most famous work of fiction, Of Human Bondage. The figures of the vicar and his wife are recognizably portrayed in the novel, and much of the blame for the wretchedness of the motherless boy must be laid at their door.

Also according to Hastings (quoted from The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham: A Biography on Google Books),

if there was no deliberate cruelty, Henry Maugham was capable of an obtuseness that came very near it, as Maugham would describe in a later memoir, Looking Back.

Is there a source, possibly in Maugham's autobiographical writings, that confirms Wikipedia's statement about Henry Maugham or is the wording of that claim an exaggeration? It would also be interesting to find out whether any specific anecdotes about Henry Maugham (as opposed to general behaviour) had found their way into Of Human Bondage.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.