97 Mortimer St, Marylebone, London W1W 7SU, UK
Thiepval Memorial Thiepval, Departement de la Somme, Picardie, France, Plot Pier and Face 8 C 9 A and 16 A
Hector Hugh Munro (18 December 1870 – 14 November 1916), better known by the pen name Saki, and also frequently as H. H. Munro, was a British writer whose witty, mischievous and sometimes macabre stories satirize Edwardian society and culture. He is considered a master of the short story, and often compared to O. Henry and Dorothy Parker. Influenced by Oscar Wilde, Lewis Carroll and Rudyard Kipling, he himself influenced A. A. Milne, Noël Coward and P. G. Wodehouse.
Besides his short stories (which were first published in newspapers, as was customary at the time, and then collected into several volumes), he 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, the only book published under his own name; a short novel, The Unbearable Bassington; the episodic The Westminster Alice (a parliamentary parody of Alice in Wonderland); and When William Came, subtitled A Story of London Under the Hohenzollerns, a fantasy about a future German invasion and occupation of Britain.
Munro was homosexual at a time when in Britain sexual activity between men was a crime. The Cleveland Street scandal (1889), followed by the downfall of Oscar Wilde (1895), meant "that side of [Munro's] life had to be secret".
Saki’s fictional aesthete Reginald, eponymous central character of the collection of stories Reginald (1904), says ‘Scandal is merely the compassionate allowance the gay make to the humdrum.’
At the start of the First World War Munro was 43 and officially over-age to enlist, but he refused a commission and joined the 2nd King Edward's Horse as an ordinary trooper. He later transferred to the 22nd Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, in which he rose to the rank of lance sergeant. More than once he returned to the battlefield when officially still too sick or injured. In November 1916 he was sheltering in a shell crater near Beaumont-Hamel, France, during the Battle of the Ancre, when he was killed by a German sniper. According to several sources, his last words were "Put that bloody cigarette out!"
Munro has no known grave. He is commemorated on Pier and Face 8C 9A and 16A of the Thiepval Memorial.
In 2003 English Heritage marked Munro's flat at 97 Mortimer Street, in Fitzrovia with a blue plaque.
After his death his sister Ethel destroyed most of his papers and wrote her own account of their childhood, which appeared at the beginning of The Square Egg and Other Sketches (1924). Rothay Reynolds, a close friend, wrote a relatively lengthy memoir in The Toys of Peace (1919), but aside from this, the only other biographies of Munro are Saki: A Life of Hector Hugh Munro (1982) by A. J. Langguth, and The Unbearable Saki (2007) by Sandie Byrne. All later biographies have unfortunately had to draw heavily upon Ethel's account of her brother's life.
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