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Saki (December 18, 1870 – November 14, 1916) was the pen name of British author Hector Hugh Munro, whose witty and sometimes macabre stories satirised Edwardian society and culture.
Saki is considered a master of the short story who is often compared to O. Henry and Dorothy Parker. His tales feature delicately drawn characters and finely judged narratives. “The Open Window” may be his most famous, with a closing line (“Romance at short notice was her speciality”) that has entered the lexicon.
In addition to his short stories (which were first published in newspapers, as was the custom of the time, and then collected into several volumes) he also wrote several plays; a short novel, The Unbearable Bassington (1912); and two novella-length satires, the episodic The Westminster Alice (1902, a Parliamentary parody of Alice in Wonderland), and When William Came (1914), subtitled “A Story of London Under the Hohenzollerns”.
The name Saki is often thought to be a reference to the cupbearer in the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam, a poem mentioned disparagingly by the eponymous character in “Reginald on Christmas Presents” (see quote below). It may, however, be a reference to the South American primate of the same name, “a small, long-tailed monkey from the Western Hemisphere” that is a central character in “The Remoulding of Groby Lington” and that, like Munro himself, hid a vicious streak beneath a gentle exterior.