H.H. Munro (SAKI)

A picture of the author H.H. Munro (SAKI)

Hector Hugh Munro (Dec 18, 1870 - Nov 14, 1916) was a witty British author who published under the pen name SAKI or H.H. Munro. The inspiration for the pen name "Saki" is unknown, it may be based upon a character in a poem or on a South American monkey. Given Munro's intellect, wit, and mischevious nature it's possible it was based on both simultaneously. As a writer, Munro (Saki) was a master of the short story form and is often compared to O. Henry and Dorothy Parker. E.F. Benson shares his sardonic style.

Munro was born in Akyab, Burma (now known as Myanmar) in 1870. In 1872 while she was on a trip to England, his mother Mary was charged by a cow. She suffered a miscarriage, never recovered, and died in 1872 when Munro was only two years old. After her death, the Munro children were sent from Burma back to England where they lived with their grandmother and aunts in a strict puritanical household. In his early career, Munro became a police officer in India and was posted to Burma where he contracted malaria before returning to England in 1895.

When the war broke out, Munro refused a commission joined the British armed forces as a regular trooper where he was certain to see battle. He was killed in action by a German sniper. His last words were reported as, "Put that bloody cigarette out!" In one of those unfortunate twists of fate, the papers that Munro had left behind were destroyed by his sister Ethel, who wrote her own account of their childhood. Munro never married and may have been gay, but homosexuality was a crime in Britain during Munro's lifetime and the decorum of the times would have required him to keep that part of his life secreted away.

H.H. Munro (SAKI), The Chronicles of ClovisMunro had a penchant for mocking the popular customs and manners of Edwardian England. He often did so by depicting characters in a setting and manner that would contrast their behavior with that of the natural world; often demonstrating that the simple and straightforward rules of nature would always trump the vanities of men. This is demonstrated gently in The Toys of Peace where parents from Edwardian England are taught a lesson that is still familiar to modern parents. He demonstrates it with striking clarity in The Interlopers and The Open Window, both of which we recommend as two of his best stories.

Munro died in France during World War I, on November 13, 1916, by German sniper fire during the Battle of Ancre. Though he was too old to enlist at 43, he had managed to gain a post in the 22nd Battalion of the Royal Fusilliers, where he was a lance-sergeant. According to several sources, his last words were "Put that bloody cigarette out!" We feature his futuristic novel about German-occupied London, When William Came in World War I Literature.

Readers that would like to explore the short stories of H.H. Munro (Saki) should consider starting with the following works:

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Short Stories

A Bread and Butter Miss
A Defensive Diamond
A Holiday Task
A Matter of Sentiment
A Touch of Realism
A Young Turkish Catastrophe
Bertie's Christmas Eve
Clovis on Parental Responsibilities
Cousin Teresa
Cross Currents
Down Pens
Expecting Mrs. Pentherby
Filboid Studge
For the Duration of the War
Hermann The Irascible
Judkin of the Parcels
Ministers of Grace
Mrs. Packletide's Tiger
On Approval
Quail Seed
Reginald at the Carlton
Reginald at the Theatre
Reginald in Russia
Reginald on Besetting Sins
Reginald on Christmas Presents
Reginald on House-Parties
Reginald on Tariffs
Reginald on the Academy
Reginald on Worries
Reginald's Choir Treat
Reginald's Christmas Revel
Reginald's Drama
Reginald's Peace Poem
Reginald's Rubaiyat
Shock Tactics
Sredni Vashtar
The Background
The Bag
The Baker's Dozen
The Blind Spot
The Blood-Feud of Toad-Water
The Boar-Pig
The Brogue
The Bull
The Byzantine Omelette
The Chaplet
The Cobweb
The Cupboard of the Yesterdays
The Disappearance of Crispina Umberleigh
The Dreamer
The Easter Egg
The Elk
The Feast of Nemesis
The Forbidden Buzzards
The Guests
The Hedgehog
The Hen
The Hounds of Fate
The Image of the Lost Sole
The Innocence of Reginald
The Interlopers
The Jesting of Arlington Stringham
The Lost Sanjak
The Lull
The Lumber Room
The Mappined Life
The Match-Maker
The Mouse
The Music on the Hill
The Name-Day
The Occasional Garden
The Open Window
The Oversight
The Peace Offering
The Peace of Mowsle Barton
The Pennance
The Phantom Luncheon
The Philanthropist and the Happy Cat
The Purple of the Balkan Kings
The Quest
The Quince Tree
The Recessional
The Remoulding of Groby Lington
The Reticence of Lady Anne
The Romancers
The Saint and the Goblin
The Schartz-Metterklume Method
The Secret Sin of Septimus Brope
The Seven Cream Jugs
The Seventh Pullet
The Sex That Doesn't Shop
The Sheep
The She-Wolf
The Soul of Laploshka
The Stake
The Stalled Ox
The Stampeding of Lady Bastable
The Story of St. Vespaluus
The Storyteller
The Strategist
The Talking-Out of Tarrington
The Threat
The Toys of Peace
The Treasure-Ship
The Unkindest Blow
The Unrest-Cure
The Way to the Dairy
The Wolves of Cernogatz
The Yarkand Manner

Anton Chekhov
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Susan Glaspell
Mark Twain
Edgar Allan Poe
Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
Herman Melville
Stephen Leacock
Kate Chopin
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson