Hector Hugh Munro, or Saki was a satirist and author with a taste for the witty and outrageous. Saki wrote most of his best work for newspapers such as the Westminster Gazette, Daily Express, Bystander, Morning Post and Outlook. A master of the short story, Saki entertains like few other writers do at the first reading. It is on subsequent readings that one is made aware of the sheer beauty and ease of Saki’s language.
Christopher Morley writes that Saki provides one an excellent introduction to “the mysterious jungles of English humour, a savage country with birds of unexpected plumage.” Saki is often compared to O. Henry, but I rather suspect his stance is more closely related to Dorothy Parker’s. In any case, Saki speaks for himself and indeed it is quite difficult to speak of Saki.
Saki was a student of European history and gifted with a prodigious memory, if he had continued to write historical tracts (as his first book was) it is not improbable that the study of history would be looked upon today as a rather light endeavour. Saki was eminently capable of saving an entire discipline from a doddering reputation. His varied interests are apparent in his political satires, short stories and plays. Saki loved wild animals and had a knack of finding the most interesting individuals and places wherever he went.
Munro chose the pen-name Saki from the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam. An electronic copy of Edward Fitzgerald’s translation of the Rubáiyát is available at Wiretap.
- 1900: The Rise of the Russian Empire
- 1902: The Westminster Alice
- 1904: Reginald (gutenberg.org e-text)
- 1910: Reginald in Russia (gutenberg.org e-text)
- 1911: The Chronicles of Clovis (gutenberg.org e-text)
- 1914: Beasts and Super-Beasts (gutenberg.org e-text)
- 1914: When William Came (gutenberg.org e-text)
- 1923: The Toys of Peace (gutenberg.org e-text)
- 1924: The Square Egg
- The Unbearable Bassington (gutenberg.org e-text)
You can find just about every story Saki wrote in which Clovis makes an appearance at The Complete Clovis
The best collection of Saki still in print is Penguin’s “The Complete Saki” which can be purchased at amazon.com (In association with Amazon.com)
Resources available at this site
Saki’s sister, Ethel M. Munro, has written a biography of Saki that is included in a number of collections of Saki’s stories. It is well worth reading, not only for the insight it gives into Saki’s life and writing but also because it is extremely well written.