A bibliography of works, including associated biographical notes compiled by William Lawrence of Robin Maugham 2nd Viscount of Hartfield (17th May 1916 – 13th March, 1981)
ROBIN MAUGHAM was a prolific author, travel writer and playwright. He was the son of 1st Viscount Maugham of Harfield - Lord High Cancellor of England - died 1958. His uncle was the celebrated man of letters, Somerset Maugham.
Robin Maugahm succeeded to the title as the 2nd Viscount Maugham in 1960 with his maiden speech in the House of Lords dedicated to his fearless campaigne against Human Trafficking (see extract)
Robin Maugham also campaigned for gay rights and was the first member of the House of Lords to proclaim that he was openly bisexual in a TV interview in the late 1960's with Sheridan Morley in the programme titled: Late Night Line Up during which he had openly admitted his attraction toward men.
“I love boys as much as girls and anybody who didn’t understand that bisexuality was a natural condition was talking bollocks!” he had told the startled interviewer.
During the Second World war he was mentioned in dispatches for his bravery during the Battle of Knightsbridge in the Western Desert. His commanding officer, Brigadier Carr, in a letter home to his wife, said of Robin Maugham:
‘He is one of the bravest men I will ever see. I should think he has saved about forty men's lives in the 4th County of London Yeomanry by rescuing them from destroyed tanks, for each of whom he has risked his own life.’
Robin Maugham declared himself to be an agnostic.
I had known the late prolific writer since the age of nineteen when my mind had been hungry for answers and full of questions about the point of existence. I lived, worked with, and became the close companion of Robin Maugham for the last eleven years of his life. I had contributed to several of his many novels and during our long walks before we dined at wherever we had settled down in to write his next book, he would discuss with me some new philosophical thought that had arisen in his mind.
It was clear that Robin Maugham’s feelings for religion mainly existed in the power of hymns and music and words, which would often move him to tears. Like his uncle Somerset Maugham, he had looked into the ideas of the major philosophers, in an effort to find some kind of answer.
He had examined the well-argued dialogues of Socrates, which had impressed him with their intricate investigative format, and sense of human fallibility; however, the cynical conclusions of Schopenhauer, so loved by his uncle, had left him cold; whereas the eloquent logic of Aristotle inspired; the pragmatism of Machiavelli he found too dark and self-serving; Descartes search for ‘certain truth’ was implausible, too dry and algebraic,and so was Hobbes, ‘Absolute power of Kings’; the odd complexities of Wittgenstein were much too obscure, for his taste, and Hegel’s formula for a state of ‘higher unity’, he found ultimately improbable and ill conceived.
It is true to say that Robin Maugham’s philosophy of life was far more in tune with Jeremy Bentham’s social reforms than the many great theories he had read, which appeared to him, on the whole, rather stentorian and detached from everyday life, and more often than not ultimately convoluted. What appealed to Robin Maugham were more straight-forward issues that effected our lives, here and now, which is why he admired the work of thinkers like Bentham; he entirely agreed with his position on many topics - such as his support for freedom of expression, animal rights, the abolition of the death penalty, the decriminalising of homosexual acts; and particularly his arguments for the abolition of slavery, a crusade in which Robin Maugham himself had been deeply involved, as his campaign to free slaves in the Sudan became the subject of his Maiden Speech in the House of Lords. He also had great sympathy for Hume’s reflections that ‘desire rather than reason’ governed human nature and that although our experience of the world relied upon the association of ‘conjoined events’, we could never be entirely certain of what to expect next; and thus we were primarily driven by passion and imagination; however, any notion that we were simply ‘bundles of experience’ and without any real separate identity filled him with dread. Robin Maugham did, however, acknowledged the importance of Pavlov’s observations on ‘conditioned reflex’; that our nature was somehow already fixed by our childhood experiences - even before the moment we began to ask ourselves who we were; though he tended to put aside notions that were apt to depress or confound, and rather dwell on concepts that moved the spirit, the mind, and the body, like Rudyard Kipling’s, Kim; like the poetic beauty of the Upanishads, or the awesome drama of the Bhagavad-Gita, words from the great masters of literature, like the intoxicating incantations of Omar Khayyam, which tended, rather than turn him inwards - to mystically join him in companionship with his fellow men:
“A flask of wine, a book of verse, a wild field
You, me, our hearts entwined, paradise revealed
No need to speak, our hearts are in our eyes.
Drink deep this treasure of oblivion, the moment flies”
BACKGROUND AND EDUCATION
Robin Maugham was born in the middle of the 1st World War. He was christened Robert Cecil Romer Maugham. He was the only son of Frederic Herbert Maugham (whose grandfather Robert Maugham had co-founded the English Law Society). Robin Maugham’s father Frederic Herbert had become one of the leading barristers of his day. In 1938 he attained the position of Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain. He married Helen Mary Romer, whose father, Mark Romer, had been a Lord Justice of Appeal.
Robin Maugham started his formal education at a preparatory school in Sussex but he felt uneasy in the place, so much so that he began to write horror stories, which he shared with the other children. The first of these he recorded as THE TOKI OF EGYPT. It was a tale set in a crumbling family vault, where at midnight, a mummified Egyptian princess sprang into life.
Robin Maugham also felt unhappy at Eton but, he converted his sense of isolation into publishing a magazine called, SIXPENCE, which was his first literary success.
At 17, against his father’s wishes, he went to Vienna to study the piano. He had a talent for composing and a deft musical ability that was crushed by an over strict teacher who gave him little space for expressing his own style. However, Vienna inspired him to continue to write. His first play entitled: Thirteen for Dinner, opened at the A.D.C. Theatre, Cambridge during his first year at Trinity College. He also had several short stories published in the Cambridge magazine Granta, which he later edited. However, with intense pressure to follow the family tradition with a career in the legal profession, Robin Maugham read Law, and English Literature, at Cambridge and eventually got a job as a judge’s marshal and studied for the Bar and became a barrister of Lincoln's Inn.
He was drawn toward socialism and he found work in the Cambridge Juvenile Employment Office that took him to the poor areas of the East End of London.
1938 - Robin Maugham's father, Frederic Herbert, was made the Lord Chancellor of England and became the 1st Viscount Maugham of Hartfield Robin Maugham wrote in Escape from the Shadows, ‘My father I admired greatly, as one might admire a venerable monument such as the Albert Memorial. He was fifty years older than I was, and our few contacts were civil and formal.’
(By this time Robin Maugham’s uncle, William Somerset Maugham, had produced his classic novels, The Moon and Sixpence and Of Human Bondage.)
1939 - August, Robin Maugham enlisted, as a trooper in the Inns of Court Regiment.
1940 - Spring, he was commissioned into the Sharpshooters of the 4th County of London Yeomanry and fought in the Western Desert campaigns with the Eighth Army, and his bravery in saving the lives of trapped tank crew was recorded in dispatches.
1942 - June, he was wounded, receiving shrapnel in the head from an enemy bomb blast. He was immediately re-graded and removed from his more physically demanding tank core duties.
1943 - It is impossible to put a date on the beginning of Robin Maugham's work for British Intelligence because of his close friendship with Winston Churchill; but it would be true to say that by 1943 it had intensified. In that year he visited Jerusalem, Beirut, Damascus and Baghdad. He had taught himself enough Arabic to converse with the Bedouins. Soon he had made a plan to establish an Arab training centre in the Middle East. This resulted in a clandestine stopover in Cairo where he had a meeting with Churchill to talk it through. By all accounts Churchill was agreeable and quickly produced a plan that concerned the situation in the Middle East, after the war, and the setting up of an underground information network, which lead to meetings with the Commander-in-Chief of the Arabic Forces, Glubb Pasha, who quickly made Maugham a major in the Arab Legion. This led to the establishment of the MIDDLE EAST CENTRE OF ARABIC STUDIES.
It is interesting to note that Robin Maugham appears as himself working in intelligence in the Middle East of 1942, in Alec Waugh's novel The Fatal Gift (1973).
1944 - Robin Maugham was invalided out of the Army with the honorary rank of Captain. (His work for British Intelligence lasted long after the war finished and possibly to the end of his life. He was regarded as an expert on the Middle East and lectured to the Royal Institute of International Affairs and the Royal Empire Society, to mention but a few).
1944 - Play, Robin Maugham’s first professionally produced dramatic production, The chanticleer Theatre, South Kensington. A famous pianist retreats to a mountain hut near Beirut. His hide out is discovered by four servicemen who try to persuade him to fight. Not surprisingly, with the effects of the war fresh in his mind, the play had an element of ‘propaganda’ about it.
1945 - After the war, during almost a year spent in hospital with head injuries, which made it impossible to practice at the Bar, that Robin Maugham wrote his first book: (Chapman and Hall) entitled: COME TO DUST, of which Richard Dimbleby wrote: ‘… as good a piece of war reporting of the intimate kind as I've ever read’. And Graham Greene: ‘…I know of no other book which gives the outsider so vivid and particularized a sense of this form of fighting’.
1946/50 - Robin Maugham travelled widely in the Middle East. After a journey across the desert of Transjordan with General Glubb, he wrote his travel book Nomad. 1947 - (Chapman & Hall) NOMAD, of which Harold Nicolson wrote in the Daily Telegraph: "He tells the story with gaiety, sentiment, and the deft style of the natural writer ... NOMAD is something which every reader will enjoy."
1947 - THE SERVANT. This was Robin Maugham’s most famous and successful work, which has been translated into dozens of languages all over the world. By late 1947 Robin Maugham had put together the last chapters of a taut compelling piece of literature that he entitled: THE SERVANT. It was his first major work. It took the form of a novelle of 20,000 words in all. It was about the darker side of class and sexual repression, set just after the Second World War – a dark time where the order of things had started to shift in a ferment of subterranean struggle that finally resulted in the social revolution of the sixties.
At its centre is the malignant influence of a manservant who takes over the life of a young English law student by providing him with his every desire. (Some years later it was adapted by Harold Pinter and made into an international prize-winning film, now set more obviously at the peak of the sexual revolution; but still firmly based on the author's novel and stage play).
The Servant explores a recurring theme in Maugham’s work. It concerns the duplicity of human nature, the struggle for integration and the corrupting influences of those who inhabit his world. (Intertwined in Robin Maugham’s world are other similar connected strands that he revisits in other later novels: the intense friendship between men at war; the demeaning results of misguided parents; the causes of sexual deviation). The Servant reveals his deft ability with a sparse and succinct narrative that seems to flow effortlessly from the pages.
THE SERVANT: ‘A masterpiece of writing…skill and speed that the author's uncle might envy.’ New York Times.
The dark subterranean quality of its characters caused a bitter feud in his more conventional family. His father, Lord Chancellor, Maugham of Hartfield, condemned the work as ‘obscene and a disgrace.’ And he made it clear that his son ought to find alternative accommodation outside the family house in Cadogan Square.
Robin Maugham took up the suggestion. He had no money, except a small war pension, so he moved into a tiny flat and got a job for The London Weekly Observer as a correspondent.
1948 - (Chapman & Hall) Travel book, NORTH AFRICAN NOTEBOOK: ‘A lively and exciting account of a trip into Africa and along its Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts, with much solid information about conditions.’ Boston Herald.
1949 - (Chapman & Hall) Novel, ‘LINE ON GINGER’: ‘Mr. Maugham's talents are well suited to this particular form, and he tells his story simply and swiftly...’ Times Literary Supplement.
1950 - (Chapman & Hall) ‘JOURNEY TO SIWA’ based on Robin Maugham’s travels across the Libyan Desert: ‘... Mr. Maugham's text is observant, cool and polished.’ Manchester Guardian.
1951 - (Chapman & Hall) Novel, THE ROUGH AND THE SMOOTH: ‘… a model of concise, necessary writing ... But Mr. Maugham has not lost himself, as many a novelist is inclined to do… Here is a real writer. Here is a good novel by someone who has something to say and knows how to say it a rare combination.’ JOHN BETJEMAN, Daily Telegraph.
1952 - Play, THE RISING HEIFER: Margo Jones Theatre, Dallas Texas (December)
1955). THE RISING HEIFER:
Intimate Theatre, High Wycombe, UK 'Farce is fine fun this is delightfully and unashamedly farcical... and could be one of those runs which we usually associate with the Whitehall Theatre. Mr. Maugham’s dialogue is infinitely better turned out than we are used to in this kind of farce.’ News Chronicle.
1953 - Film, THE INTRUDER: Robin Maugham’s film adaptation of his novel, LINE ON GINGER. The film had a royal premiere in October 1953, in the presence of H. R. H. the Duke of Edinburgh. It starred Jack Hawkins, with George Cole, Dennis Price and Michael Medwin, and was unanimously praised by the critics. It had a very successful showing in Great Britain, France and America. (Produced by Ivan Foxwell, directed by Guy Hamilton)
1955 - (Harcourt Brace, USA) Novel, BEHIND THE MIRROR: ‘An expert and ingenious story teller ... this compassionate book is moving.’ Sunday Times. And John Betjeman, Daily Telegraph: ‘Robin Maugham can write ... the sincerity of the author and his gift of narrative and brief, certain powers of describing a scene, character make him a fiction addict's delight.’
1955 - Film, THE BLACK TENT: World Premiere, Leicester Square Theatre, and 16th March. Rank Organization: producer William MacQuitty; director Brian Desmond Hurst; Stared Anthony Steel and Donald Sinden. A disappointment at the box office.
1955 - Play, THE LEOPARD: The Connaught Theatre, Worthing, 22nd May. A well-established try out venue. The play was set in Tanganyika, Africa, a story of rulers living according to The Code.
1956 - Play, MISTER LEAR: Connaught Theatre, Worthing, September. The play (now re-titled JUST IN TIME) starred Henry Kendall in the lead.
1957 - Television, RISE ABOVE IT: (formerly the play entitled: ‘THE RISING HEIFER’) Produced by ABC. BBC Productions, 31st January. Starred Jon Pertwee in the 1ead.
1957 - Play, ODD MAN IN: Robin Maugham’s adaptation of Claude Magnier’s comedy ‘MONSIEUR MASURE’. St. Martin’s Theatre, 16th July. Starred Terry Thomas, Muriel Pavlow; Derek Farr and Donald Sinden.
1957 - Play, THE LAST HERO: Repertory Players, Strand Theatre, 16th June. The subject was the life of General Gordon. The Play starred Nigel Bruce: ‘The special sense in which General Gordon is shown to have been a hero in Mr. Robin Maugham's play about him entitled THE LAST HERO is the surest indication of this play's unusual quality.’ The Times.
1957 - Play, THE LONESOME ROAD: By Robin Maugham and Philip King. Arts Theatre, London, 28th August: ‘A powerful and sincere play…the true stuff of drama.’ Evening News.
1957 - Play, WINTER IN ISCHIA: Written in Ischia, Italy. (Not yet performed)
1958 - March, Frederic Herbert Maugham the 1st Viscount of Hartfield died. He had invested nearly all of his money in a business venture, which had failed, and he was practically bankrupt. There was no family fortune; no private income, and Robin Maugham, now 2nd Viscount, had only his writing skills to rely on.
1958 - Play, THE SERVANT: Robin Maugham’s adaptation of his classic novella. Connaught Theatre, Worthing, 28th April: ‘It is the author's own adaptation of his brilliant and sinister novel of the same title. It is an unpleasant but fascinating play.’ News Chronicle.
1960 - 14th July, Robin Maugham made his maiden speech in the House of Lords as the 2nd Viscount Maugham of Hartfield. His subject was ‘Slavery In Africa and Arabia’. Because of the subsequent public outrage, it was estimated that the authorities in Arabia freed over 2000 bonded servants from slavery.
July 14th, 1960 - extract from Handsard:
My Lords…There are two main routes into Saudi Arabia. The first comes from West Africa. It goes from the high Volta, through the Niger provinces and the region of Timbuktu, across Africa to the Port of Suakin, and across the Red Sea, by dhow to Lith, a port south of Jedda. The other goes from Iraq and Persia and Baluchistan across the Gulf and then, by caravans of camels, across to Riyadh. The children taken on this route are generally children bought from poor parents in these countries, but quite often they have been kidnapped... Vice is unrestrained and the means to gratify unusual lusts can easily be procured with money. There are now sheikhs who can obtain sexual satisfaction only with very young children. Slaves are often horribly abused for pleasure or mutilated as a punishment and the castration of young boys is practised. The operation is performed on boys between the ages of ten and fourteen, and the amputation is done radically, both the penis and the scrotum being cut away... My friend (I am sorry to have to keep saying ‘my friend’ but he does not want his name to be used) then spoke to one of the American pilots and asked him into his house for a drink. He said to him, “Do you realise that you are carrying children into captivity?” And the man answered, “When I took on this job I was told to keep my eyes shut and my ears shut as to what was going on around here. And that is the way it is going to be. Another seven years of flying... and I’ll have earned enough money to retire for life.”…
…And last year I travelled in a Land-Rover... to the legendary city of Timbuktu, where I lived for a month making various enquiries. I then moved out into the Sahara. And there I bought a slave from his Taureg master, like one buys a piece of meat. I paid for him 25,000 A.O.F francs, which is the equivalent of £37.10s. od. His name was Ibrahaim. He was twenty years old. I gave him his freedom and he now works as a free man in Timbuktu. My Lords, I bought this man and photographed the money changing hands with the master and took the number of the notes and so forth, entirely in order to come back with the actual proof that slavery exists in the Sahara.
The Taureg are nomadic tribesmen, fair-skinned, who have a slave caste known as the Bela. These Bela, men, women and children, belong body and soul to their masters. I have lived in these Taureg camps, and I have seen these slave girls and slave women working from dawn to dusk... I have seen the marks of cruelty on their bodies. If they are disobedient... they are tied to a tree and lashed until they lose consciousness – and sometimes they do not recover and are just left to die…
1960 - Film, THE MAN WITH TWO SHADOWS, Hammer Films. A disappointment and a flop at the box office.
1960 - Television, THE TWO WISE VIRGINS OF HOVE, Robin Maugham' s first play written for television was performed on ITV on December 22nd, with Margaret Rutherford and Martita Hunt in the leading roles. ‘Deceptively simple, perilously poised on the knife edge of acceptance over a pit of bathos… supported by the playing of Margaret Rutherford and Martita Hunt and the impeccable restraint of the writing. The Sunday Times.
1961 - (Longmans Green & Co) Travel Book, THE SLAVES OF TIMBUKTU, ‘An impassioned and important freelance crusade for human rights.’ Daily Mail. Robin Maugham journeyed to Fiji, Samoa and Tahiti to research material; returned via the USA on 31st October.
1961 - Play, THE CLAIMANT, Connaught Theatre, Worthing, Monday 29th October. ‘This play takes an admirably direct line with its unfrilly plot and provides first class drama.’ Brighton Evening Argus.
1962 - (Max Parrish Ltd) Nonfiction book, THE JOYITA MYSTERY, serialized in England by the Magazine TO DAY and ARGOSY Magazine in America and OGGI Magazine in Italy. The real-life disappearance of a 70-ton motor vessel, ‘Joyita’, found drifting in the Pacific, its 25 occupants vanished. ‘If the benevolent shades of departed artists brood over their disciples, the spirit of Arthur Conan Doyle must have prompted and sustained this persevering investigator. Robin Maugham's deductions are as convincing and as concise as those of Holmes himself.’ The Times.
1962 - (Longmans Green & Co. Ltd) Novel, NOVEMBER REEF, Robin Maugham’s second book set in the South Seas. ‘Far the best thing he has ever written. I find it fresh and stirring.’ W. Somerset Maugham. And Anthony Burgess, The Observer, ‘… suspense is like taut wire…’
1962 - Play, AZOUK. The Flora Robson Playhouse, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 11th September. Adaptation of Alexandre Rivermale’s play by Robin Maugham and Willis Hall. ‘Riotous fun and games... A wise choice for opening this new theatre...’ Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Journal.
1962 - Radio, THE LAST HERO. Produced for BBC Radio, Saturday Night Theatre, on 10th November. Michael Hordern took the role of General Gordon.
1963 - Film, THE SERVANT. Opened in London 14th November. Directed by Joseph Losey. Starred Dirk Bogarde, Sarah Miles, and Wendy Craig, script by Harold Pinter. ‘A remarkably effective study in the sinister.’ Patrick Gibbs, The Daily
1963 - ARTICLES, THE PEOPLE NEWSPAPER: ‘The Slave Trade To day’,
1965 - ARTICLES, THE PEOPLE NEWSPAPER: ‘Professor Bulathsinghala, The Astrologer Royal’; ‘Harold Edward Musson’ an English Officer, who went to Ceylon to become a Buddhist Monk, and whom Robin Maugham visited in his jungle home.
1965 - Television, WINTER IN ISCHIA. ITV. Eva Bartok in the lead.
1966 - ARTICLES THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH, ‘The Gerald Hamilton Story’, ‘My Uncle Willie’.
1966 - Television, (THE LAST HERO). For BBC1 as: ‘GORDON OF KHARTOUM’. Rudolph Cartier directed. Alan Badel took the part of General Gordon.
1966 - (Heinemanns & Longmans) Biography, SOMERSET AND ALL THE MAUGHAMS: (Best Seller List): This book is a history of the Maugham family up to the present day, and is dedicated to Noel Coward. ‘…a brilliant observer...’ Cyril Connolly, The Sunday Times. And Hector Bolitho, The Washington Sunday Star: ‘It is Robin Maugham' s best book so far, on a subject so personal that he might have ruined it. Instead, he has achieved a scholarly aloofness which is extraordinary.’
1966 - Novel, THE GREEN SHADE: (Best Seller List): ‘… poignantly described ... He does it so beautifully, so compassionately, and with such skill and economy that even the most jealous admirer of his late uncle, Somerset Maugham, will have to admit at last that the nephew too knows something about writing’. Graham Lord, The Sunday Express.
1966 - Play, THE SERVANT. The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford, 27th September. Harold Hobson, The Sunday Times: ‘THE SERVANT gives the most mordant analysis of an Imperialist society in decay that I can remember, and the decline of the employer and the sordid rise of the employee are relentlessly and fascinatingly followed step by inexorable step. The surface has an aristocratic gloss, but the shadow beneath it is Royal Court. Powerful and interesting, it is played with satisfying and sometimes sinister ease.’
1968 - (McGraw Hill, USA. Heinemann, England) Novel, THE SECOND WINDOW. Robin Maugham started work on his largest novel while living in his villa, Casa Cala Pada, outside Santa Eulalia, Ibiza, in July 1967. Alec Waugh: ‘It is a magnificent novel ... Everything is legitimate, nothing contrived ... Reading the book is an extreme emotional experience ... It is a great, great achievement.’ And Tom Driberg, The People: ‘It is not a pretty story, but it is the most profound and ingenious that Robin Maugham has yet written; indeed, his uncle, Somerset, would not, I think, have been ashamed of having written it.’
1967 - Toured Australia: ARTICLES AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. He made many television and radio broadcasts.
1969 - ILLNESS: ONSET OF HIS DIABETIC CONDITION. In the spring of that year Robin Maugham was taken ill, and returned to England for an operation. Most people would have reduced their workload but undaunted he continued.
1969 - (McGraw Hill, USA) Novel, THE LINK. A Victorian mystery based on the famous Tichborne case. Gloria Vanderbilt: ‘Fascinating, I couldn't put it down ... So beautifully interwoven the suspense drew me into it from the very first page.’
1969 – Play AD20
1969 - Play, ENEMY. Premiere, The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Guildford, 7th October. ‘What a real change to see something written with intelligence and humour, so well-staged and magnificently acted’. Surrey Comet.
1969 - Play, ENEMY. Saville Theatre, London, 17th December. Produced by Mrs. Doris Cole. Directed by Ronald Eyre. Sir Michael Balcon: ‘ENEMY is a rewarding experience. A brilliantly written, compassionate and authentic play in which you easily become emotionally involved. The players seize the opportunities provided by Robin Maugham and give wonderful performances.’
1970 - (Heinemann) Novel, THE WRONG PEOPLE. THE Sexual Offences Act became law in 1967. This permitted homosexual acts in private. The first notes for Robin Maugham’s dark novel, THE WRONG PEOPLE, were written in 1958. When Robin showed the manuscript to his uncle ‘Willie’ Somerset Maugham, he remarked that the book would, ‘…ruin’ Robin’s reputation; but that it was, ‘… extremely well done’. THE WRONG PEOPLE is centred on the character of Arnald Turner who finds gratification in the form of a young Moroccan boy, Riffi, who is supplied by a seedy Anglo American, Ewing Baird. But there is a price to pay. In return for Baird’s favour and with a sprinkling of blackmail and bribery, Turner must kidnap a young boy from the approved school where he works in England and smuggle him into Tangier. THE WRONG PEOPLE was originally published in the USA, 1967 under the pseudonym of David Griffin. William Heinemann, 1970, published the revised edition, in the name of Robin Maugham.
1972 - ESCAPE FROM THE SHADOWS, Robin Maugham’s critically acclaimed autobiography, published by Hodder & Stoughton. It was praised for being, an honest self-portrait, warts and all. He talks bravely about his struggle with ill health and alcohol and his sexual ambiguity. Robin Maugham had spent much of his life abroad, at first travelling and then returning to England, most often Brighton where he had many friends. In the late sixties he bought a villa that he called, Casa Cala Pada, outside Santa Eulalia, Ibiza. He lived and worked there for several years with his partner and collaborator, WILLIAM LAWRENCE - during which time he wrote:
1973 - (W.H. Allen) THE BARRIER, containing five sonnets by John Betjeman. The novel is set in the 1890’s, the heyday of the British Raj, in a military hill-station, which the author calls, Telacamund. A young innocent English girl goes out to India to join her new husband who is stationed with his regiment in a hill station. She becomes disillusioned with her life and falls in love with one of her husband’s servants who act as her groom when she goes riding. It is a love that defies the restrictions of caste and race.
1974 - (W.H. Allen) THE SIGN, a provocative and disturbing novel set in Palestine in the year AD 20. It tells the story of Caleb; a young visionary who comes to believe that he is the, ‘Chosen One’.
1974 – Play, Nijinsky (not produced)
1975 - (W.H. Allen) Autobiographical, SEARCH FOR NIRVANA. Robin Maugham, ever restless, had become increasingly unhappy in his villa in Ibiza. He had always harboured the thought that somewhere out there he would find the perfect place to live.
1976 - (W.H. Allen) KNOCK ON TEAK. Robin Maugham’s only comic novel. It follows the journey of, C.K. Teak, a writer with dwindling sales, who sets out to find a story. What he actually discovers is absolute mayhem, in this glorious send-up. Robin Maugham’s search for the perfect abode was cut short when his health deteriorated and he was forced to leave Sri Lanka and retuned to Brighton where he spent the remaining years of his life at, 5, Clifton Road. A modest, terraced house. But his failing health and increasing diabetic comas did not stop him from writing:
1977 - (W.H. Allen) LOVERS IN EXILE, a collection of novellas, centred on the theme of: love in exile, away from home, away from friends. The setting in each short story varies from the rural landscape of Kent to the Holy Land, across the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean.
1978 - (W.H. Allen) Biography, Conversations with Willie RECOLLECTIONS OF W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM
1979 - (W.H. Allen) THE DIVIDING LINE, a thriller based on Robin’s experience in the Agadir earthquake of 1960. It is a case of mistaken identity that takes the protagonist, ‘Doctor’ Simon Perry, toward the dark, fine line that separates sanity from madness; honesty from criminality.
1979 - Play, 'WILLIE'
1980 - (William Kimber) THE CORRIDOR, a sort of metaphysical drama in which Rodney Croft, an ambitious actor, comes face to face with death and relives the course of his life, as he is pushed along on a trolley from room to room to see the wake of devastation he has left behind.
1981 - Play, A QUESTION OF RETREAT, Nightingale Theatre, Brighton; also adapted for a Radio 4 BBC production.
1981 - REFUGE, this novella is about escape and sexual exploitation. The book is the result of collaboration between the author and William Lawrence. It is set in Sri Lanka and remains unpublished.
1981 - Before going into hospital in Brighton to have some routine tests, Robin Maugham, ever optimistic, confided to close friends, William Lawrence and Patrick Newley, (who later saved an archive of Robin Maugham’s annotated typescripts from being lost) that he was preparing to set out on yet another journey, to find some new material that would inspire his writing. Robin Maugham died in the intensive care unit of Brighton Hospital on the 13th March 1981. He was 66 years of age.
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 sombre 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.
For the last decade or so of his life the writer employed various assistants to help him cope with his life on both a professional and personal level. Peter Burton in particular stands out as a professional writer and journalist who contributed to Maugham's life in both a literary sense and in the sense of personal friendship. Another creative inspiration for Maugham's work was his partner, William Lawrence who worked with him on many of his later novels. And finally, Patrick Newley was a constant source of advice and support during the very last years of the writer's life and was able to place one of his last projects, The Corridor with the publisher William Kimber.
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. ‘I shall now never achieve the success of my uncle Willie,’ he said quietly.
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. The last paragraph in his autobiography reads:
‘I sleep with my windows open. I awake in the hour before dawn, dazed with sleep. At first the streaks of light are menacing. Across the horizon, crawling slowly like beetles, come the enemy tanks, grinding towards my private world. Then, as I awake a little more, I stare towards the windows and become aware that streaks of light are sweeping across the horizon of pine and sea. Suddenly, I am frightened because I know that daylight can bring danger and assault. But by now the tanks have moved beneath the horizon. Now at last - without any fear and without any shadows spread out in the space before me - now, at last, I can stretch out my arms and reach towards the delivering sun.’
At the height of his creative powers Robin Maugham had been a bestselling author. Of the dozens of books he had written his most popular works were: The Servant, Line On Ginger, The Rough and the Smooth, Behind the Mirror, The Link and Somerset and all the Maughams: he sold over 100,000 copies of each and they were translated into, French, German, Danish, Italian, Spanish, Arabic and Hebrew. And his play THE SERVANT is still performed all over the world.