Thursday, October 5, 2006


Sir Henry Maximilian Beerbohm (August 24, 1872 May 20, 1956)

`But in a tragedy,' I insisted, `the catastrophe MUST be
led up to, step by step. My dear Brown, the end of
the hero MUST be logical and rational.'

`I don't see that,' he said, as we crossed
Piccadilly Circus. `In actual life it isn't so.
What is there to prevent a motor-omnibus
from knocking me over and killing me at this moment?'

At that moment, by what has always seemed
to me the strangest of coincidences, and just
the sort of thing that playwrights ought to
avoid, a motor-omnibus knocked Brown over and killed him.


"Death cancels all engagements."

Max Beerbohm was educated at Charterhouse and Merton College, Oxford. He was a critic, essayist and caricaturist. His caricatures were collected in various volumes including A Christmas Garland which was published in 1912. His one completed novel, Zuleika Dobson was published in 1911. It is an ironic romance of Oxford undergraduate life. As a half brother of the actor-manager Herbert Beerbohm Tree, Max was a brilliant dramatic critic of the Saturday Review from 1898 to 1910, succeeding George Bernard Shaw. In 1910 he married an American actress, Florence Kahn and went to live in Rapallo, Italy (except for the duration of the two World Wars). His broadcast talks from 1935 were a brilliant stylistic accomplishment. A month before his death he married Elizabeth Jungmann.

Seven Men and Two Others - Reviewer from New York City August 13, 1999
These fictitious biographical sketches are superb blends of gentle humor with worldly wisdom. This is one of the finest books of the twentieth century and maybe one of the finest books ever written. If you can, try to get the hardcover Oxford World's Classics edition, which reproduces the pencil sketches that Beerbohm (who was a highly talented caricaturist as well as a fine writer) made of five of the "seven men." The sketches add yet another layer of meaning and resonance to what is already a marvelous book that easily bears any number of rereadings.

Max a biography by Lord David Cecil
Max Beerbohm, or The Dandy Dante by Robert Viscusi
Conversation with Max by S. N. Behrman
Max Beerbohm: A Kind of Life by N. John Hall