name of British author H. H. Munro
Munro; Munro's pen name; “The Square Egg” author;
“Reginald” writer; Literary pseudonym
2 times a year
little inaccuracy sometimes saves tons of explanations.
Saki (December 18,
1870 - November 14, 1916) was the pen name of British author
Hector Hugh Munro, whose witty and outrageous stories satirized
the Edwardian social scene in macabre and cruel ways.
is considered a master of the short story, often compared to O.
Henry and Dorothy Parker. His story The
may be his most famous, with a closing line ("Romance at
short notice was her speciality") that has entered the
lexicon of many writers.
is generally believed to have been chosen from the Rubáiyát
of Omar Khayyam, a poem to which he refers in "Reginald on
Christmas Presents". However, an alternative school of
thought holds that the author's pseudonym originates with the
South American monkey of the same name. "A small,
long-tailed monkey from the Western Hemisphere", its nature
a balance of gentle shyness with a vicious temper, features as a
central character in "The Remoulding of Groby Lington".
note that Munro made misogynist and anti-Semitic comments. Some
of the less than feminist comments that he made may be due, in
part, to his difficulty with women throughout his life; he never
married. He was often confronted by the more fatuous end of
female interaction (as can be seen in one short story about women
buying stationery) and, as a homosexual, attracted many as
friends. Despite his lampooning of suffragettes and aunts, his
stories feature sympathetic portrayals of admirably cool and
self-possessed schoolgirls. One of his closest childhood friends
was his sister, and they remained close until his disappearance
on the battlefield.
was born in Akyab,
Burma as the son of Charles Augustus Munro, an inspector-general
for the Burma police when that country, now called Myanmar, was
still part of the British Empire. His mother, the former Mary
Frances Mercer, died in 1872, killed by a runaway cow. He was
brought up in England with his brother and sister by his
grandmother and aunts in a straitlaced household, the humour in
which he only appreciated in later life. He used the severity of
this household in many stories, notably Sredni
in which a young boy keeps a pet ferret without his guardian's
knowledge and the weasel ends up killing the woman who looks
after him, apparently to the delight of the boy.
was educated at Pencarwick School in Exmouth and the Bedford
Grammar School. In 1893 Munro joined the Burma police. Three
years later, failing health forced his resignation and return to
England, where he started his career as a journalist, writing for
newspapers such as the Westminster
1900 Munro's first book appeared, The
Rise of the Russian Empire,
a historical study modeled upon Edward Gibbon's famous The
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
It was followed in 1902 by Not-So-Stories,
a collection of short stories.
1902 to 1908 Munro worked as a foreign correspondent for The
in the Balkans, Russia and Paris, then settled in London. Many of
the stories from this period feature the elegant and effete
Reginald and Clovis, who take heartless and cruel delight in the
discomfort or downfall of their conventional and pretentious
elders. In 1914 his novel When
was published, in which he portrayed what might happen if the
German emperor conquered England.
the start of World War I, although officially over age, Munro
joined the Army as an ordinary soldier, refusing a commission. He
was killed by a sniper in France, near Beaumont-Hamel.
Munro was sheltering in a shell crater and his last words,
according to several sources, were "Put that damned
cigarette out!" After his death his sister Ethel destroyed
most of his papers and wrote her own account of their childhood.
work is in the public domain, and some of it can be found on the
Web. Much of it was published posthumously.
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