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The Magician is an early W. Somerset Maugham novel, originally published in 1908. In this tale, the magician Oliver Haddo, a caricature of Aleister Crowley, attempts to create life. Crowley wrote a critique of this book under the pen name Oliver Haddo, where he accused Maugham of plagiarism.

Maugham wrote The Magician in London, after he had spent some time living in Paris, where he met Aleister Crowley.

The Magician was later republished with a foreword by Maugham entitled A Fragment of Autobiography.

The novel inspired a 1926 Rex Ingram film of the same name, see: The Magician .

Maugham's comments

Nearly fifty years after the publication of The Magician, the author, Maugham, commented on his book in A Fragment of Autobiography. He writes that by then he had almost completely forgotten the book, and, on rereading it, found the writing "lush and turgid", using more adverbs and adjectives than he would today, and notes that he must have been trying to emulate the "écriture artiste" (artistic writing) of the French writers of the time. He also comments that he must have spent days and days reading in the library of the British Museummarker to come by all the material on the black arts.

Allegations of plagiarism

In the 1908 edition of the magazine Vanity Fair Aleister Crowley (under the pen name Oliver Haddo) wrote a critique of The Magician, accusing Maugham of plagiarism. In this critique, named How to Write a Novel! (After W. S. Maugham), Crowley accuses Maugham of having plagiarised the following books in writing The Magician:

In A Fragment of Autobiography, Maugham claimed not to have read Crowley's review, adding, "I daresay it was a pretty piece of vituperation, but probably, like his poems, intolerably verbose."


  • Vanity Fair (magazine), 1908, How to Write a Novel! (After W. S. Maugham) by "Oliver Haddo" (Aleister Crowley)
  • A Fragment of Autobiography, W. S. Maugham, included as a foreword in some modern versions of The Magician
  1. Maugham, A Fragment of Autobiography, reprinted as the preface to The Magician, Vintage books (2000), p. x.

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