W. Somerset Maugham

W. Somerset Maugham

William Somerset Maugham (25 January 1874 – 16 December 1965), better known as W. Somerset Maugham, was a British playwright, novelist and short story writer. He was among the most popular writers of his era and reputedly the highest-paid author during the 1930s.

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Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

People ask for criticism but they only want praise.

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

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.

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

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

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.

Only a mediocre person is always at his best.

Have common sense and stick to the point.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit.

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.

Tolerance is another word for indifference.

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

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

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

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

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.

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

The essence of the beautiful is unity in variety.

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

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.

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.

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

Impropriety is the soul of wit.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

The crown of literature is poetry.

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

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

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.

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

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.

The writer is more concerned to know than to judge.

Writing is the supreme solace.

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

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

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

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.

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

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

Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.

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

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