It isn’t just musicians that have reportedly made pacts with the Devil. Robin Maugham (1916-1981) was convinced his uncle William Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) – the popular author – had made a Faustian bargain in exchange for fame.

In Maugham (1980) by Ted Morgan, Robin relates a curious incident that took place during his uncle’s last years. William Somerset Maugham looked towards the door of his room and started trembling violently.

“Who’s that coming into the room?” he asked, his face contorted with fear. He then began to shriek, “Go away! I’m not ready. I’m not dead yet I tell you!”

Robin look around the room, but it was empty.

Shortly before his death, William Somerset Maugham asked Robin Maugham, “You don’t believe one can lose one’s soul so completely in this life that there is nothing left, do you?”

Robin dutifully assured him this was not possible.

Whether his uncle really sold his soul is open to debate. What is certain is William Somerset Maugham achieved a great deal of fame, entertaining many illustrious names at his Villa Mauresque on the French Riviera, including Noel Coward, Winston Churchill and the Duke of Windsor – not to mention lunching with the Queen of England.

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