Wordcount: 8007, Pages 28 Satire, Humor Originally Published in 1916
Sir Henry Maximilian "Max" Beerbohm (August 24, 1872 â€“ May 20, 1956) was an English essayist, parodist and caricaturist best known today for his 1911 novel Zuleika Dobson.
On his return to England Beerbohm published his first book, The Works of Max Beerbohm (1896), a collection of his essays which had first appeared in The Yellow Book. His first piece of fiction, The Happy Hypocrite, was published in The Yellow Book in 1897. Having been interviewed by George Bernard Shaw himself, in 1898 he followed Shaw as drama critic for the Saturday Review, on whose staff he remained until 1910. At that time the Saturday Review was undergoing renewed popularity under its new owner, the writer Frank Harris, who would later become a close friend of Beerbohm's. It was Shaw, in his final Saturday Review piece, who bestowed upon Beerbohm the lasting epithet, "the Incomparable Max" when he wrote, "The younger generation is knocking at the door; and as I open it there steps spritely in the incomparable Max".
In 1904 Beerbohm met the American actress Florence Kahn. In 1910 they married and moved to Rapallo in Italy, partly as an escape from the social demands and the expense of living in London. Here they remained for the rest of their lives except for the duration of World War I and World War II, when they returned to Britain, and occasional trips to England to take part in exhibitions of his drawings. In his years in Rapallo Beerbohm was visited by many of the eminent men and women of his day, including Ezra Pound, who lived nearby, Somerset Maugham, John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier and Truman Capote among others. Beerbohm never learned to speak Italian in the five decades that he lived in Italy.
From 1935 onwards, he was an occasional if popular radio broadcaster, talking on cars and carriages and music halls for the BBC. His radio talks were published in 1946 as Mainly on the Air. His wit is shown often enough in his caricatures but his letters contain a carefully blended humourâ€”a gentle admonishing of the excesses of the dayâ€”whilst remaining firmly tongue in cheek. His lifelong friend Reginald Turner, who was also an aesthete and a somewhat witty companion, saved many of Beerbohm's letters.
Beerbohm's best known works include A Christmas Garland (1912), a parody of literary styles, Seven Men (1919), which includes "Enoch Soames", the tale of a poet who makes a deal with the Devil to find out how posterity will remember him, and Zuleika Dobson (1911), his only novel.
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