Syrie, Somerset, and Liza Maugham: Of Human Bondage

British interior design legend Syrie Maugham (1879 –1955) created the first “white room” using varying pale shades, painted French antiques, plaster tables, reflective mirror screens. milk glass and white peacock feathers. Later glamorous rooms also featured pops of bold color and attracted the patronage of London’s elite including The Prince of Wales and Wallis Simpson. Syrie who was photographed by Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) was not as successful in love as business. Her first marriage to Sir Henry Solomon Wellcome was unhappy and she separated from him after eight years having several affairs including one with brilliant Paris born English author William Somerset Maugham (1874-1965). Maugham who was gay fathered a daughter with Syrie who would be called Liza after his first successful novel Liza of Lambeth. Beaton captured the successful writer as Graham Vivian Sutherland sketched him. Maugham married Syrie after her divorce but he proved to be a poor husband and father. The union ended and while he walked his daughter down the aisle for her first wedding, he would wrongly question her paternity at the end of his life. Syrie and Somerset Maugham’s genius lives on in their great grandson Derek Paravicini who although a blind autistic savant is also a gifted musical prodigy.