SAKI (Hector Hugh Munro; 1870–1916) was born to a military police officer father in British-controlled Burma. After the death of his mother in 1872, Munro and his two older siblings were sent to live in Devon, England, with their paternal grandmother and aunts. Munro was considered sickly and received casual tutoring at home until the age of ten, though he was later sent to boarding school. In 1887 his father retired to England and began several years of travel on the Continent with his children. In 1893 Munro joined the Indian Imperial police in Burma (where he reportedly kept a tiger cub as a pet) but contracted malaria after a year and returned to Devon. By 1894 he had resolved to become a writer and, subsidized by his father, moved to London, where he would receive public recognition for a series of political satires based on Alice in Wonderland. From 1902 to 1909 he worked as a foreign correspondent in the Balkans, Russia, and Paris while publishing short stories and sketches in newspapers; these pieces were gathered in the collections Reginald (1904), Reginald in Russia (1910), The Chronicles of Clovis (1911), Beasts and Super-Beasts (1914), and the posthumous The Toys of Peace (1923). In addition to short stories, Munro also wrote a full-length play, The Watched Pot, in collaboration with Charles Maude; two one-act plays; a historical study, The Rise of the Russian Empire; a short novel, The Unbearable Bassington; and a fantasy about England under German occupation, When William Came. Having enlisted for service in World War I despite being officially over-age, Munro was killed in action near Beaumont-Hamel, France.
“Weird, but in a good way” is how The Guardian describes Saki’s fantastical stories, set in Edwardian drawing rooms and garden parties. The same words might be used to describe the illustrations Edward Gorey drew for this selection of Saki’s work, originally commissioned by a Swiss publisher, and never before widely available in an English-language edition.