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Biography

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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 17 May 1916
Date of Death 13 March 1981Brighton, East Sussex, England, UK
Birth NameRobert Cecil Romer Maughm

Mini Bio (2)

For over thirty years Robin Maugham was one of Britain's most popular writers. He was the author of over 30 books, which included travel, autobiography, short stories and novels as he regularly wrote for stage, screen and television. His most famous book, The Servant, was memorably filmed by Joseph Losey in 1963 and starred Dirk Bogarde and James Fox.

Born in 1916 Robert Cecil Romer Maugham was the son of Frederic Herbert Maugham, a Lord High Chancellor of England, and nephew of W.Somerset Maugham, the writer. Educated at Eton and Trinity Hall, Cambridge he joined the Inns of Court Regiment as a Trooper in 1939 and was commissioned into the County of London Yeomanry in 1940. Wounded in the head in desert tank warfare, he was mentioned in dispatches by his Commanding Officer.

His first book Come to Dust was described as a 'classic' by Graham Greene and among his other best known books were The Wrong People, The Second Window, Line on Ginger, Somerset and all the Maughams, Conversations with Willie, and his bestselling autobiography Escape From The Shadows. As a writer of fiction, his talent lay in his gripping dialog, clipped narratives and he reappearing themes of control and corruption. "I write of control and the hold people have over each other" he said "because that is how I see it. It is a predominant factor in everyone."

Nearly all of Maugham's books were optioned for films. Line on Ginger was filmed as The Intruder (1953)and starred Jack Hawkins, Michael Medwin and Dennis Price. The Black Tent (1956, co-written with Bryan Forbes) starred Anthony Steel and Donald Sinden. The Rough and the Smooth (1959), directed by Robert Siodmak, starred William Bendix and Tony Britton.

Maugham's screenplay for The Wrong People, a homosexual thriller, was bought in the 1960s by the film actor Sal Mineo but was never filmed. The novel was published under the pen name of David Griffin in America in 1967. Published against the advice of his uncle who warned that its appearance would seriously damage his reputation it became a surprise bestseller and was reissued under Maugham's own name.

Maugham's novel The Dividing Line (1979) was due to be filmed with Elizabeth Taylor playing a lead role but production never started.

A Peer of the Realm, Lord Maugham appeared frequently on international television talk shows and in 1968 on BBC2 Late Night Line Up announced to a startled Sheridan Morley that he "loved boys as much as girls." His last television appearance was shortly before his death in 1981 in a BBC2 documentary, Somerset Maugham, in which he talked about his uncle.

In an interview before he died Maugham said "I'm cheerful about life because I have never been afraid of death. After all I have had four tanks shot from under me. I was buried alive in the Agadir earthquake for five hours with every rib in my body broken and on one of my trips to Africa I nearly died of food poisoning."

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Patrick Newley

Summing up: When he wrote, Robin Maugham always had an early breakfast of a boiled egg, toast and marmalade. Then he would work through the day, taking snacks of dry biscuits and sometimes a stiff vodka and tonic. After he had completed the morning's work, of at least four thousand words, he would have a somber lunch; except, perhaps on Sundays, when with special guests, it could still become a celebration full of laughter. This would be followed by his ubiquitous siesta. And then, there he would be, at his desk by six o'clock, pen in hand, for about an hour correcting the typescript of his work.

To clear his mind, as the sun had begun to set, he would take a meandering walk in the dimming light, usually with a trusted companion; he would quietly think over what he had written that morning; and with his friend, who would act as a kind of muse, he would talk through the next stage of his plot and assemble the outline of the writing he would do the following day. A long soak in a hot bath would follow. And then slowly he would dress, dine and retire early.

Robin Maugham created a pattern in his life at the centre of which was his writing. And this enabled him to escape the dark dreams that haunted him. From the first appearance of the mysterious face at his bedroom window when he was a child, to the emergence of his alter ego, Tommy, Robin Maugham was on the run and remained so to the end of his life. The only moments when the pain would ease was when he was lost in the world his characters inhabited, and better still, if he had a companion by his side to share at least part of the experience.

In the last year of his life, his creative powers had finally begun to subside, and he was all but financially bankrupt. He was aware that he was not fully part of the Old Order and yet, no matter how shocking his work, neither could he be part of the new avant-garde movement of working class realism. The week before going into Brighton hospital for a check up, he confided to his partner, William Lawrence, that he had come to realize that his work was just no longer fashionable and that most probably he would forever be seen as some obscure writer - from the dark and forgotten fifties.

Within a few weeks of routine treatment, he had died, from an embolism it was suggested; though the circumstances of his death were curiously like a plot for one of his novels, with a twist in the tale, because, the hospital somehow managed to mislay his body. For over two days he was missing, which made a final diagnosis impossible. Robin Maugham was in death as he was in life, an enigma.

Robin Maugham declared himself to be an agnostic. His feelings for religion seemed to exist in the power of hymns and music and words to move us. He read all the major philosophers: the well argued dialogs of Socrates; the cynical conclusions of Schopenhauer's denial of sexual instinct, so favoured by atheistic 'uncle Willie', Somerset Maugham; the impeccable deductions of Aristotle; the dark pragmaticism of Machiavelli; Descartes search for 'certain truth' was implausible and Hobbes, 'Absolute power of Kings', improbable; the cold complexities of Wittgenstein and Hegel were too analytical and scientific for his taste. Maugham was more in tune with the ideas of Jeremy Bentham's social reforms, Hume's reflections on the power of the imagination, and Ivan Pavlov's conclusions on conditioned reflexes. He tended to put aside notions that were apt to confound the mind and would rather dwell on concepts that moved the spirit like Buddhism, the Bhagavad-Gita, the poetic simplicity of the Upanishads, and the intoxicating incantations of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam&; which often moved him to tears.

The following is by way of an addendum to the biographical information so far given. It should be noted that although the rights to Robin Maugham's book 'The Wrong People' were applied for by Sal Mineo, the contractual arrangements were never financially completed and the film rights to the novel would have automatically reverted to Robin Maugham and therefore his estate. April 25, 2008

- IMDb Mini Biography By: William Lawrence - Trustee of the Robin Maugham Estate

Trivia (3)

Brother of the novelist and playwright Diana Marr-Johnson (1908- ) who has written several television plays including Boy Meets Girl.
He was once engaged to Mary Churchill, the daughter of Sir Winston Churchill.

Personal Quotes (2)

"I'm convinced that it's just luck that plays the most important part in any writer's career. A writer might think that his success is entirely due to his talent and technique and hard work but it is usually a stroke of luck that made him a celebrity." (Interviewed in The Guardian newspaper 1968)
I never liked Harold Pinter's screenplay of my novel The Servant. The orgy scene at the end of the film was a cock-up. It was obvious to anyone that neither Pinter or director Joe Losey had ever been to one.

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