Gerald Haxton

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Frederick Gerald Haxton (1892–1944), a native of San Francisco, was the long term secretary and lover of novelist and playwright W. Somerset Maugham.[1]

He and Maugham met at the outbreak of World War I when they both began serving as part of a Red Cross ambulance unit in French Flanders.[1]

Secrecy and arrest[edit]

Maugham, and to a lesser extent Haxton, had been affected by the trial of Oscar Wilde. Common to men who were either homosexual or in the case of Maugham who had sexual relationships with both men and women, (Maugham had had an affair with the actress Sue Jones before meeting Haxton and later had a child with Syrie Wellcome whom he married) neither spoke of their situation for fear of recrimination.[1]

However in November 1915 Haxton and another man, John Lindsell, were arrested in a Covent Garden hotel and charged with gross indecency. Military policemen, whilst looking for deserters, had burst into the hotel room of Haxton and Lindsell to find them committing a homosexual act that was not buggery.[1] On December 7 that same year both men were indicted under the same law that had been used to prosecute Oscar Wilde. However, unlike Wilde, when the two men appeared in the Central Criminal Court at the Old Bailey on December 10 they were both acquitted.

Deportation[edit]

Haxton left the country shortly thereafter.

After touring the South Pacific islands, Haxton was aboard the Hitachi Maru en route to South Africa when the ship was captured by the German raider SMS Wolf in September, 1917. Haxton was a prisoner aboard the Wolf until February, 1918 when the Wolf returned to Germany and he was transferred to a German prison camp. He was reunited with Maugham in 1919.[2]

On attempting to return in February 1919 he was deported from Britain as an undesirable alien and was never allowed to enter the country again.[1] The papers providing reason or reasons for this deportation were placed in a special access category for 100 years and are still closed from the public view.[citation needed]

Because Maugham and Haxton traveled abroad during most of World War I and chose to live on the French Riviera in the villa "Mauresque", they were able to carry on their relationship despite Haxton's deportation. They lived at Mauresque almost exclusively until they were forced to flee the advancing Germans at the commencement of World War II.

It is thought that Haxton’s flamboyant nature, said to be portrayed in the character Rowley Flint in Up at the Villa, was the key to Maugham’s invitational success with the members of society wherever the pair traveled.[1]

Later years and death[edit]

Haxton continued as Maugham's constant companion for 30 years, until he died in a private room in the Doctors Hospital, New York. Maugham later placed the following dedication in his 1949 compilation, A Writer’s Notebook: "In Loving Memory of My Friend Frederick Gerald Haxton, 1892–1944".

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Hastings, Selinia. The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham, New York: Random House, 2010
  2. ^ Guilliatt, Richard (2010). The Wolf. New York: Free Press. pp. 161, 167–68, 284–85. ISBN 978-1-4165-7317-3.