Saki, pseudonym of H(ector) H(ugh) Munro, (born Dec. 18, 1870, Akyab, Burma [now Myanmar]—died Nov. 14, 1916, near Beaumont-Hamel, France), Scottish writer and journalist whose stories depict the Edwardian social scene with a flippant wit and power of fantastic invention used both to satirize social pretension, unkindness, and stupidity and to create an atmosphere of horror.
Munro was the son of an officer in the Burma police. At the age of two he was sent to live with his aunts near Barnstaple, Devon, England. He later took revenge on their strictness and lack of understanding by portraying tyrannical aunts in many of his stories about children. He was educated at Exmouth and at Bedford grammar school, and in 1893 he joined the Burma police but was invalided out. Turning to journalism, he wrote political satires for the Westminster Gazette and in 1900 published The Rise of the Russian Empire, a serious historical work.
After acting as foreign correspondent for The Morning Post in the Balkans, Russia, and Paris, in 1908 he settled in London, writing short stories and sketches: Reginald (1904), Reginald in Russia (1910), The Chronicles of Clovis (1912), and Beasts and Super-Beasts (1914). Written in a style studded with epigrams and with well-contrived plots often turning on practical jokes or surprise endings, his stories reveal a vein of cruelty in their author and a self-identification with the enfant terrible. Among his most frequently anthologized works are “Tobermory,” “The Open Window,” “Sredni Vashtar,” “Laura,” and “The Schartz-Metterklume Method.” His novel The Unbearable Bassington (1912) describes the adventures of a fastidious and likable but maladjusted hero, in a manner anticipating that of the early work of the English satirist Evelyn Waugh. Munro was killed in action in World War I.
literary sketch, short prose narrative, often an entertaining account of some aspect of a culture written by someone within that culture for readers outside of it—for example, anecdotes of a traveler in India published in an English magazine. Informal in style, the sketch is less dramatic but more analytic and descriptive than the tale and the short story. A writer of a sketch maintains a chatty and familiar tone, understating his major points and suggesting, rather than stating, conclusions.
One common variation of the sketch is the character sketch, a form of casual biography usually consisting of a series of anecdotes about a real or imaginary person.
The sketch was introduced after the 16th century in response to growing middle-class interest in social realism and exotic and foreign lands. The form reached its height of popularity in the 18th and 19th centuries and is represented by such famous sketches as those of Joseph Addison and Richard Steele in The Spectator (1711–12). They created characters such as Mr. Spectator, Sir Roger de Coverley, Captain Sentry, and Sir Andrew Freeport, representatives of various levels of English society, who comment on London manners and morals. The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. (1819–20) is Washington Irving’s account of the English landscape and customs for readers in the United States.
The Open Window, frequently anthologized short story by Saki, first published in the collection Beasts and Super-Beasts in 1914. Vera, a charming teenager, plays a practical joke on a nervous visitor, causing him to flee the house. The story’s surprise ending, its witty, concise narrative, and its slightly sinister tone are all trademarks of Saki’s fiction.
You can read Saki ’s short story here