Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Writer's Notebook” as Want to Read:
A Writer's Notebook
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Writer's Notebook

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  225 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
From 1892, when he was eighteen, until 1949, when this book was first published, Somerset Maugham kept a notebook. It is without doubt one of his most important works. Part autobiographical, part confessional, packed with observations, confidences, experiments and jottings it is a rich and exhilarating admission into this great writer's workshop
Paperback, 368 pages
Published July 5th 2001 by Vintage Classics (first published October 1st 1949)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Writer's Notebook, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Writer's Notebook

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 689)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Methinks I've been hoodwinked.
It appears I have a very odd edition of this book, an edition that precedes even the real first edition. This is "Preprinted from Cosmopolitan Magazine" and is a condensed 133-page version bound prior to the first full edition in 1949. It's hardcover in blue cloth and is in excellent condition. Got it for $2. Even so I might have been reluctant to buy this knowing it isn't the full magilla; I'm not one for Reader's Digest type reductions. I took this to the park ear
Mar 19, 2009 Elaine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a weird read. I was surprised that I liked it. It is a collection of Maugham's notebook entries from the turn of the 20th century to 1949, minus his notes on India. He reveals a typical aristocratic British belief that different peoples have different national characters, reveals his dislike for assertive or ugly women, dislikes American coffee, believes that Americans are very class conscious despite their supposed egalitarianism, and so on. He adores French culture but deplores their p ...more
Oct 14, 2015 JOSEPH OLIVER rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The one star is not for the content but for the layout of this particular edition. Please look at the 'Look Inside' part before purchasing. You will notice that each observation is given a line and there is no division between the lines. They all run into one another.

The original hardback copy has each observation distinctly separate from all the rest. It makes it much easier to dip into the book. This journal is not designed to be read from cover to cover as it is an edited collection of his ob
Maugham began to record his thoughts and observations in this journal while a medical student in London and continued as he travelled around the world, as a journalist (in reality a British agent during the Russian revolution) and later a writer, from England to France to South Seas to Pacific Islands and Malaya, writing about his experiences and thoughts. This contains his notes from 1892 to 1949.

I am unsure if the comments about Russian literature are recorded here, or only in The Summing Up.
Thomas Sutpen
Feb 11, 2013 Thomas Sutpen rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Any Maugham fan
It was really interesting to read these excerpts of Maugham`s notebooks, for the book is exactly what its title states. Except for the preface and for the last pages which were written to give an introduction and a closure to the book respectively, the rest of it consists of a series of sketches, descriptive passages, thoughts on politics and plots that could have been the basis for a short story or a novel and were later disregarded by the author. Notwithstanding the sometimes disjointed charac ...more
Sep 10, 2011 Margaret marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
I am often very fond of Maugham's novels, but I just couldn't finish this, basically a collection of bits from his journals. I couldn't stay interested in the fragments, and I recoiled from the occasional unpleasant observation about women or non-European people.

Sorry, Willie, back on the shelf you go -- maybe I'll take another whack in a few years.
May 31, 2011 Don rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Discovered this book recently and REALLY enjoyed it. The combination of character sketches and insight into historical events due to the author's presence there (e.g., the Russian Revolution of 1917) was deeply engrossing.

This book led me to seek out other writer's notebooks, e.g., the Journal of Jules Renard.
Jul 08, 2014 Ichor rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A patchy read that is all swings and roundabouts. There are some stunning insights into a writer's mind and some worrying ones as well. I'd recommend flicking through it but nothing else.
Ajith Rajan
I just skimmed it cover to cover and read extracts I found interesting. Got an insight into how a great writer like Maugham keeps his writer's notebook.
Mar 02, 2013 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved watching the change in Maugham's style as he grew older. Not the most entertaining, but if you're a fan of his writing, you'll appreciate it.
Dirk Buken
Jun 27, 2013 Dirk Buken rated it really liked it
Full of insights, full of ideas. It's worth a reading for every fan of Somerset Maugham.
ShanLandis marked it as to-read
Oct 21, 2016
♥ Sandi
♥ Sandi marked it as to-read
Oct 21, 2016
V marked it as to-read
Oct 21, 2016
Zezee marked it as to-read
Oct 21, 2016
Aseye Agamah
Aseye Agamah marked it as to-read
Oct 20, 2016
Cátia Carvalho
Cátia Carvalho is currently reading it
Oct 19, 2016
Ralph Buchanan
Ralph Buchanan rated it it was amazing
Oct 11, 2016
Alejandro Sanchez Guinea
Alejandro Sanchez Guinea marked it as to-read
Oct 10, 2016
Amy marked it as to-read
Oct 08, 2016
Matt marked it as to-read
Oct 06, 2016
Siva priya/Sona
Siva priya/Sona marked it as to-read
Oct 04, 2016
BookDB marked it as to-read
Oct 02, 2016
Josh marked it as to-read
Sep 27, 2016
Gergana Georgieva
Gergana Georgieva marked it as to-read
Sep 14, 2016
Maryam marked it as to-read
Sep 13, 2016
Cece rated it really liked it
Sep 11, 2016
Annabelle is currently reading it
Sep 09, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 22 23 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham: A Biography
  • Camus, a Romance
  • The Memoirs of Victor Hugo
  • Letters to a Fiction Writer
  • Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters
  • Updike
  • Guilty
  • Writing Places: The Life Journey of a Writer and Teacher
  • Break Every Rule: Essays on Language, Longing, and Moments of Desire
  • Oleander, Jacaranda: A Childhood Perceived
  • Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters
  • Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years
  • Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will
  • Hemingway on Fishing
  • De Profundis, The Ballad of Reading Gaol & Other Writings
  • The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde
  • Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer's Craft
  • The Life of My Choice
William Somerset Maugham was born in Paris in 1874. He spoke French even before he spoke a word of English, a fact to which some critics attribute the purity of his style.

His parents died early and, after an unhappy boyhood, which he recorded poignantly in Of Human Bondage, Maugham became a qualified physician. But writing was his true vocation. For ten years before his first success, he almost l
More about W. Somerset Maugham...

Share This Book

“In love one should exercise economy of intercourse. None of us can love for ever. Love will be stronger and will last longer if there are impediments of its gratification. If a lover is prevented from enjoying his love by absence, difficulty of access, or by the caprice or coldness of his beloved, he can find a little consolation in the thought that when his wishes are fulfilled his delight will be intense. But love being what it is, should there be no hindrances, he will pay no attention to the considerations of prudence; and his punishment will be satiety. The love that lasts longest is the love that is never returned.” 14 likes
“It is quite as difficult to fit one's practice to one's precepts as to fit one's precepts to one's practice. Most people act in one way and preach in another. When the fact is brought to their notice, they assert that it is their weakness, and that their desire is to act up to their principles. That is pretence. People act according to their inclinations and adopt principles; because these are generally at variance with their inclinations they are ill-at-ease and unstable. But when they force themselves to act up to their principles and suppress their inclinations, there is no hope for them - but in heaven.” 6 likes
More quotes…