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Max Beerbohm

Max Beerbohm

Overview
Sir Henry Maximilian "Max" Beerbohm (August 24, 1872 – May 20, 1956) was an English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 essay
Essay
An essay is a piece of writing which is often written from an author's personal point of view. Essays can consist of a number of elements, including: literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. The definition...

ist, parodist
Parody
A parody , in current usage, is an imitative work created to mock, comment on, or trivialise an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation...

 and caricaturist
Caricature
A caricature is a portrait that exaggerates or distorts the essence of a person or thing to create an easily identifiable visual likeness. In literature, a caricature is a description of a person using exaggeration of some characteristics and oversimplification of others.Caricatures can be...

 best known today for his 1911 novel
Novel
A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

 Zuleika Dobson
Zuleika Dobson
Zuleika Dobson, full title Zuleika Dobson, or, an Oxford love story, is a 1911 novel by Max Beerbohm, a satire of undergraduate life at Oxford. It was his only novel, but was nonetheless very successful...

.


Born in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, England at 57 Palace Gardens Terrace, Henry Maximilian Beerbohm was the youngest of nine children of a Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

n-born grain merchant, Julius Ewald Edward Beerbohm (1811–1892). His mother was Eliza Draper Beerbohm (d. 1918), the sister of Julius's late first wife.
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Quotations

Most women are not so young as they are painted.

A Defense of Cosmetics (1895)

I was a modest, good-humoured boy. It is Oxford University|Oxford that has made me insufferable.

More, “Going Back to School” (1899)

The most perfect caricature is that which, on a small surface, with the simplest means, most accurately exaggerates, to the highest point, the peculiarities of a human being, at his most characteristic moment in the most beautiful manner.

The Spirit of Caricature (1901)

As a teacher, as a propagandist, George Bernard Shaw|Shaw is no good at all, even in his own generation. But as a personality, he is immortal.

Around Theatres, “A Cursory Conspectus of G.B.S” (1924)

The past is a work of art, free of irrelevancies and loose ends.

Comment

Lift latch, step in, be welcome, Sir,Albeit to see you I’m unglad.

A Luncheon

Only the insane take themselves quite seriously.

Quoted in Max by Lord David Cecil|David Cecil (1964), ch. 2

Zuleika, on a desert island, would have spent most of her time in looking for a man's footprint.

Ch. II

She was a young person whose reveries never were in retrospect. For her past was no treasury of distinct memories, all hoarded and classified, some brighter than others and more highly valued. All memories were for her but as notes in one fused radiance that followed her and made more luminous the pathway of her future.

Ch. II
Encyclopedia
Sir Henry Maximilian "Max" Beerbohm (August 24, 1872 – May 20, 1956) was an English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 essay
Essay
An essay is a piece of writing which is often written from an author's personal point of view. Essays can consist of a number of elements, including: literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. The definition...

ist, parodist
Parody
A parody , in current usage, is an imitative work created to mock, comment on, or trivialise an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation...

 and caricaturist
Caricature
A caricature is a portrait that exaggerates or distorts the essence of a person or thing to create an easily identifiable visual likeness. In literature, a caricature is a description of a person using exaggeration of some characteristics and oversimplification of others.Caricatures can be...

 best known today for his 1911 novel
Novel
A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

 Zuleika Dobson
Zuleika Dobson
Zuleika Dobson, full title Zuleika Dobson, or, an Oxford love story, is a 1911 novel by Max Beerbohm, a satire of undergraduate life at Oxford. It was his only novel, but was nonetheless very successful...

.

Early life



Born in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, England at 57 Palace Gardens Terrace, Henry Maximilian Beerbohm was the youngest of nine children of a Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

n-born grain merchant, Julius Ewald Edward Beerbohm (1811–1892). His mother was Eliza Draper Beerbohm (d. 1918), the sister of Julius's late first wife. It was a well-to-do London family, and Beerbohm grew up with the four sisters from his father's second marriage. One of these sisters was Agnes Mary Beerbohm (1865–1949), who became Mrs Ralph Neville in 1884; she was a friend of the artist Walter Sickert
Walter Sickert
Walter Richard Sickert , born in Munich, Germany, was a painter who was a member of the Camden Town Group in London. He was an important influence on distinctively British styles of avant-garde art in the 20th century....

 and modelled for him in his 1906 painting Fancy Dress. He was also close to four half-siblings, one of whom, Herbert Beerbohm Tree
Herbert Beerbohm Tree
Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree was an English actor and theatre manager.Tree began performing in the 1870s. By 1887, he was managing the Haymarket Theatre, winning praise for adventurous programming and lavish productions, and starring in many of its productions. In 1899, he helped fund the...

, was already a renowned stage actor when Max Beerbohm was a child. Other older half-siblings were the author and explorer Julius Beerbohm
Julius Beerbohm
Julius Beerbohm was a Victorian travel-writer, engineer and explorer.He was the son of Julius Ewald Edward Beerbohm , of Dutch, Lithuanian, and German origin, who had come to England in about 1830 and set up as a prosperous corn merchant. He married an Englishwoman, Constantia Draper, and the...

 and the author Constance Beerbohm
Constance Beerbohm
Constance Beerbohm was the oldest daughter of Julius Ewald Edward Beerbohm , of Dutch, Lithuanian, and German origin, who had come to England in about 1830 and set up as a prosperous corn merchant. He married an Englishwoman, Constantia Draper, and the couple had four children...

. His nieces were Viola
Viola Tree
Viola Tree was an English actress, singer, playwright and author. Daughter of the actor Herbert Beerbohm Tree, she made many of her early appearances with his company at His Majesty's Theatre...

, Felicity
Felicity Tree
Lady Felicity Cory-Wright was an English baronetess, the daughter of the actor Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree and his wife, the actress Helen Maud Holt...

 and Iris Tree
Iris Tree
Iris Tree was an English poet, actress and artists' model, described as a bohemian, an eccentric, a wit and an adventuress....

.

From 1881 to 1885 Max — he was always called simply 'Max' and it is thus that he signed his drawings — attended the day school of a Mr Wilkinson in Orme Square. Mr Wilkinson, Beerbohm later said, ‘gave me my love of Latin and thereby enabled me to write English’. Mrs Wilkinson taught drawing to the students, the only lessons Beerbohm ever had in the subject.
Beerbohm was educated at Charterhouse School
Charterhouse School
Charterhouse School, originally The Hospital of King James and Thomas Sutton in Charterhouse, or more simply Charterhouse or House, is an English collegiate independent boarding school situated at Godalming in Surrey.Founded by Thomas Sutton in London in 1611 on the site of the old Carthusian...

 and Merton College, Oxford
Merton College, Oxford
Merton College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. Its foundation can be traced back to the 1260s when Walter de Merton, chancellor to Henry III and later to Edward I, first drew up statutes for an independent academic community and established endowments to...

 from 1890, where he was Secretary of the Myrmidon Club
Myrmidon Club
The Myrmidon Club is a dining club elected from the male undergraduate members of Merton College, Oxford. Founded in 1865, it is one of the handful of such clubs with an almost continuous existence from the second half of the 19th century...

. It was at school that he began writing. While at Oxford
Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

 Beerbohm became acquainted with Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s...

 and his circle through his brother, Herbert Beerbohm Tree
Herbert Beerbohm Tree
Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree was an English actor and theatre manager.Tree began performing in the 1870s. By 1887, he was managing the Haymarket Theatre, winning praise for adventurous programming and lavish productions, and starring in many of its productions. In 1899, he helped fund the...

. In 1893 he met William Rothenstein
William Rothenstein
Sir William Rothenstein was an English painter, draughtsman and writer on art.-Life and work:William Rothenstein was born into a German-Jewish family in Bradford, West Yorkshire. His father, Moritz, emigrated from Germany in 1859 to work in Bradford's burgeoning textile industry...

, who introduced him to Aubrey Beardsley
Aubrey Beardsley
Aubrey Vincent Beardsley was an English illustrator and author. His drawings, done in black ink and influenced by the style of Japanese woodcuts, emphasized the grotesque, the decadent, and the erotic. He was a leading figure in the Aesthetic movement which also included Oscar Wilde and James A....

 and other members of the literary and artistic circle connected with The Bodley Head
The Bodley Head
The Bodley Head is an English publishing house, founded in 1887 and existing as an independent entity until the 1970s. The name has been used as an imprint of Random House Children's Books since 1987...

. Though he was an unenthusiastic student academically, Beerbohm became a well-known figure in Oxford
Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

 social circles. He also began submitting articles and caricatures to London publications, which were met enthusiastically. In March 1893 he submitted an article on Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s...

 to the Anglo-American Times under the pen name
Pen name
A pen name, nom de plume, or literary double, is a pseudonym adopted by an author. A pen name may be used to make the author's name more distinctive, to disguise his or her gender, to distance an author from some or all of his or her works, to protect the author from retribution for his or her...

 'An American'. Later in 1893 his essay
Essay
An essay is a piece of writing which is often written from an author's personal point of view. Essays can consist of a number of elements, including: literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. The definition...

 'The Incomparable Beauty of Modern Dress' was published in the Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

 journal The Spirit Lamp by its editor, Lord Alfred Douglas
Lord Alfred Douglas
Lord Alfred Bruce Douglas , nicknamed Bosie, was a British author, poet and translator, better known as the intimate friend and lover of the writer Oscar Wilde...

.

By 1894, having developed his personality as a dandy and humorist, and already a rising star in English letters, he left Oxford without a degree. His A Defence of Cosmetics
A Defence of Cosmetics
A Defence of Cosmetics is an essay by caricaturist and parodist Max Beerbohm and published in the first edition of The Yellow Book in April 1894. Aged 21 when the essay was published, it established his reputation...

 (The Pervasion of Rouge) appeared in the first edition of The Yellow Book in 1894, his friend Aubrey Beardsley
Aubrey Beardsley
Aubrey Vincent Beardsley was an English illustrator and author. His drawings, done in black ink and influenced by the style of Japanese woodcuts, emphasized the grotesque, the decadent, and the erotic. He was a leading figure in the Aesthetic movement which also included Oscar Wilde and James A....

 being art editor at the time.

In 1895 Beerbohm went to America
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 for several months as secretary to his brother Herbert Beerbohm Tree
Herbert Beerbohm Tree
Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree was an English actor and theatre manager.Tree began performing in the 1870s. By 1887, he was managing the Haymarket Theatre, winning praise for adventurous programming and lavish productions, and starring in many of its productions. In 1899, he helped fund the...

's theatrical company. He was fired when he spent far too many hours polishing the business correspondence. There he became engaged to Grace Conover, an American actress in the company, a relationship that lasted several years.

Beerbohm as Writer


On his return to England Beerbohm published his first book, The Works of Max Beerbohm
The Works of Max Beerbohm
The Works of Max Beerbohm was the first book published by English caricaturist, essayist and parodist Max Beerbohm. It was published in 1896 when Beerbohm was aged 24....

 (1896), a collection of his essays which had first appeared in The Yellow Book. His first piece of fiction, The Happy Hypocrite
The Happy Hypocrite
The Happy Hypocrite: A Fairy Tale for Tired Men is a short story with moral implications, written by Max Beerbohm in 1897. His earliest short story, The Happy Hypocrite first appeared in The Yellow Book in 1897...

, was published in The Yellow Book in 1897. Having been interviewed by George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60...

 himself, in 1898 he followed Shaw as drama critic for the Saturday Review
Saturday Review (London)
The Saturday Review of politics, literature, science, and art was a London weekly newspaper established by A. J. B. Beresford Hope in 1855....

, 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
Frank Harris
Frank Harris was a Irish-born, naturalized-American author, editor, journalist and publisher, who was friendly with many well-known figures of his day...

, 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
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 actress Florence Kahn
Florence Kahn (actress)
Florence Kahn was a Jewish American actress and the first wife of caricaturist and parodist Sir Max Beerbohm.-Acting career:...

. In 1910 they married and moved to Rapallo
Rapallo
Rapallo is a municipality in the province of Genoa, in Liguria, northern Italy. As of 2007 it counts approximately 34,000 inhabitants, it is part of the Tigullio Gulf and is located in between Portofino and Chiavari....

 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
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, when they returned to Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, 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
Ezra Pound
Ezra Weston Loomis Pound was an American expatriate poet and critic and a major figure in the early modernist movement in poetry...

, who lived nearby, Somerset Maugham, John Gielgud
John Gielgud
Sir Arthur John Gielgud, OM, CH was an English actor, director, and producer. A descendant of the renowned Terry acting family, he achieved early international acclaim for his youthful, emotionally expressive Hamlet which broke box office records on Broadway in 1937...

, Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, OM was an English actor, director, and producer. He was one of the most famous and revered actors of the 20th century. He married three times, to fellow actors Jill Esmond, Vivien Leigh, and Joan Plowright...

 and Truman Capote
Truman Capote
Truman Streckfus Persons , known as Truman Capote , was an American author, many of whose short stories, novels, plays, and nonfiction are recognized literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's and the true crime novel In Cold Blood , which he labeled a "nonfiction novel." At...

 among others. Beerbohm never learned to speak Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 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
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

. His radio talks were published in 1946 as Mainly on the Air
Mainly on the Air
Mainly on the Air was written by English caricaturist, essayist and parodist Max Beerbohm. It was published in 1946 by Heinemann and is a collection of the texts of a series of six BBC Radio broadcasts from 1935 to 1945 and six essays.-Background:...

. His wit is shown often enough in his caricatures but his letters contain a carefully blended humour—a gentle admonishing of the excesses of the day—whilst remaining firmly tongue in cheek. His lifelong friend Reginald Turner, who was also an aesthete
Aestheticism
Aestheticism was a 19th century European art movement that emphasized aesthetic values more than socio-political themes for literature, fine art, the decorative arts, and interior design...

 and a somewhat witty companion, saved many of Beerbohm's letters.

Beerbohm's best known works include A Christmas Garland
A Christmas Garland
A Christmas Garland, Woven by Max Beerbohm is a collection of nineteen parodies written by English caricaturist, essayist and parodist Max Beerbohm. It was first published in the United Kingdom in October 1912 by Heinemann and in 1918 in the United States by Dutton & Co...

 (1912), a parody
Parody
A parody , in current usage, is an imitative work created to mock, comment on, or trivialise an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation...

 of literary styles, Seven Men
Seven Men
Seven Men is a collection of short stories written by English caricaturist, essayist and parodist Max Beerbohm. It was published in Britain in 1919 by Heinemann and in the United States in 1920 by Alfred A. Knopf, and has been described as a "masterpiece."...

 (1919), which includes "Enoch Soames
Enoch Soames
Enoch Soames is a short story by the British writer Max Beerbohm. It appeared in the collection Seven Men and was originally published in the May 1916 edition of The Century Magazine. It is well-known for its clever and humorous use of the ideas of time travel and pacts with the Devil...

", the tale of a poet who makes a deal with the Devil to find out how posterity will remember him, and Zuleika Dobson
Zuleika Dobson
Zuleika Dobson, full title Zuleika Dobson, or, an Oxford love story, is a 1911 novel by Max Beerbohm, a satire of undergraduate life at Oxford. It was his only novel, but was nonetheless very successful...

 (1911), his only novel.

Caricaturist


In the 1890s, while a student at Oxford University
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

, Beerbohm showed great skill at observant figure sketching. His usual style of single-figure caricature
Caricature
A caricature is a portrait that exaggerates or distorts the essence of a person or thing to create an easily identifiable visual likeness. In literature, a caricature is a description of a person using exaggeration of some characteristics and oversimplification of others.Caricatures can be...

s on formalized groupings, drawn in pen or pencil with delicately applied watercolour tinting, was established by 1896 and flourished until about 1930. In contrast to the heavier artistic style of the Punch
Punch (magazine)
Punch, or the London Charivari was a British weekly magazine of humour and satire established in 1841 by Henry Mayhew and engraver Ebenezer Landells. Historically, it was most influential in the 1840s and 50s, when it helped to coin the term "cartoon" in its modern sense as a humorous illustration...

 tradition he showed a lightness of touch and simplicity of line. Beerbohm's career as a professional caricaturist began when he was twenty: in 1892 the Strand Magazine
Strand Magazine
The Strand Magazine was a monthly magazine composed of fictional stories and factual articles founded by George Newnes. It was first published in the United Kingdom from January 1891 to March 1950 running to 711 issues, though the first issue was on sale well before Christmas 1890.Its immediate...

 published thirty-six of his drawings of ‘Club Types’. Their publication dealt, Beerbohm said, ‘a great, an almost mortal blow to my modesty’. The first public exhibition of his caricatures was as part of a group show at the Fine Art Society
Fine Art Society
The Fine Art Society is an art dealership with two premises, one in New Bond Street, London and the other in Edinburgh . It was formed in 1876...

 in 1896; his first one-man show at the Carfax Gallery in 1901.

He was influenced by French cartoonists such as 'Sem' (:fr:Georges Goursat) and 'Caran d'Ache' (Emmanuel Poir). Beerbohm was hailed by The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

 in 1913 as "the greatest of English comic artists", by Bernard Berenson
Bernard Berenson
Bernard Berenson was an American art historian specializing in the Renaissance. He was a major figure in pioneering art attribution and therefore establishing the market for paintings by the "Old Masters".-Personal life:...

 as "the English Goya
Francisco Goya
Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes was a Spanish romantic painter and printmaker regarded both as the last of the Old Masters and the first of the moderns. Goya was a court painter to the Spanish Crown, and through his works was both a commentator on and chronicler of his era...

", and by Edmund Wilson
Edmund Wilson
Edmund Wilson was an American writer and literary and social critic and noted man of letters.-Early life:Wilson was born in Red Bank, New Jersey. His father, Edmund Wilson, Sr., was a lawyer and served as New Jersey Attorney General. Wilson attended The Hill School, a college preparatory...

 as "the greatest...portrayer of personalities - in the history of art".

Usually inept with hands and feet, Beerbohm excelled in heads and with dandified male costume of a period whose elegance became a source of nostalgic inspiration. His collections of caricatures included Caricatures of Twenty-five Gentlemen
Caricatures of Twenty-five Gentlemen
Caricatures of Twenty-five Gentlemen is a book of twenty-five caricatures by English caricaturist, essayist and parodist Max Beerbohm. It was published in 1896 by Leonard Smithers and Co and was Beerbohm's first book of caricatures....

 (1896), The Poets' Corner
The Poets' Corner
The Poets' Corner is a book of twenty caricatures by English caricaturist, essayist and parodist Max Beerbohm. It was published in 1904 by William Heinemann, and was Beerbohm's second book of caricatures, the first being Caricatures of Twenty-five Gentlemen .Named after Poets’ Corner, the name...

 (1904), Fifty Caricatures
Fifty Caricatures
Fifty Caricatures is a book of fifty caricatures by English caricaturist, essayist and parodist Max Beerbohm. It was published in 1913 by William Heinemann in Britain and E.P. Dutton & Company in the United States...

 (1913) and Rossetti and His Circle
Rossetti and His Circle
Rossetti and His Circle is a book of twenty-three caricatures by English caricaturist, essayist and parodist Max Beerbohm. Published in 1922 by William Heinemann, the drawings were Beerbohm's humorous imaginings concerning the life of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his fellow Pre-Raphaelites, the...

 (1922). His caricatures were published widely in the fashionable magazines of the time, and his works were exhibited regularly in London at the Carfax Gallery (1901-8) and Leicester Galleries (1911–57). At his Rapallo
Rapallo
Rapallo is a municipality in the province of Genoa, in Liguria, northern Italy. As of 2007 it counts approximately 34,000 inhabitants, it is part of the Tigullio Gulf and is located in between Portofino and Chiavari....

 home he drew and wrote infrequently and decorated books in his library. These were sold at auction by Sotheby's
Sotheby's
Sotheby's is the world's fourth oldest auction house in continuous operation.-History:The oldest auction house in operation is the Stockholms Auktionsverk founded in 1674, the second oldest is Göteborgs Auktionsverk founded in 1681 and third oldest being founded in 1731, all Swedish...

 of London on 12 and 13 December 1960 following the death of his second wife and literary executor
Literary executor
A literary executor is a person with decision-making power in respect of a literary estate. According to Wills, Administration and Taxation: a practical guide "A will may appoint different executors to deal with different parts of the estate...

 Elisabeth Jungmann
Elisabeth Jungmann
Elisabeth Jungmann was an interpreter and the secretary, literary executor and second wife of caricaturist and parodist Sir Max Beerbohm....

.

His Rapallo caricatures were mostly of late Victorian
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

 and Edwardian political, literary and theatrical personalities. The court of Edward VII
Edward VII of the United Kingdom
Edward VII was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death in 1910...

 had a special place as a subject for affectionate ridicule. Many of Beerbohm's later caricatures were of himself.

Major collections of Beerbohm's caricatures are to be found in the Ashmolean Museum
Ashmolean Museum
The Ashmolean Museum on Beaumont Street, Oxford, England, is the world's first university museum...

, Oxford
Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

; the Tate
Tate
-Places:*Tate, Georgia, a town in the United States*Tate County, Mississippi, a county in the United States*Táté, the Hungarian name for Totoi village, Sântimbru Commune, Alba County, Romania*Tate, Filipino word for States...

 collection; the Victoria and Albert Museum
Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum , set in the Brompton district of The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London, England, is the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects...

; Charterhouse School
Charterhouse School
Charterhouse School, originally The Hospital of King James and Thomas Sutton in Charterhouse, or more simply Charterhouse or House, is an English collegiate independent boarding school situated at Godalming in Surrey.Founded by Thomas Sutton in London in 1611 on the site of the old Carthusian...

; the Clark Library
William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
The William Andrews Clark Memorial Library , one of twelve official libraries at the University of California, Los Angeles, is one of the most comprehensive rare books and manuscripts libraries in the United States, with particular strengths in English literature and history , Oscar Wilde, and fine...

, University of California
University of California
The University of California is a public university system in the U.S. state of California. Under the California Master Plan for Higher Education, the University of California is a part of the state's three-tier public higher education system, which also includes the California State University...

; and the Lilly Library
Lilly Library
The Lilly Library, located on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, is a large rare book and manuscript library in the United States.-History:...

, University of Indiana; depositories of both caricatures and archival material include Merton College Library
Merton College, Oxford
Merton College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. Its foundation can be traced back to the 1260s when Walter de Merton, chancellor to Henry III and later to Edward I, first drew up statutes for an independent academic community and established endowments to...

, Oxford; the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin
University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin is a state research university located in Austin, Texas, USA, and is the flagship institution of the The University of Texas System. Founded in 1883, its campus is located approximately from the Texas State Capitol in Austin...

; the Robert H. Taylor collection, Princeton University Library
Princeton University Library
Princeton University Library is the main library system of Princeton University. With holdings of more than 7 million books, 6 million microforms, and 37,000 linear feet of manuscripts, it is headquartered in the Harvey S...

; the Houghton Library
Houghton Library
Houghton Library is the primary repository for rare books and manuscripts at Harvard University. It is part of the Harvard College Library within the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Houghton is located on the south side of Harvard Yard, next to Widener Library.- History :Harvard's first...

, Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

; and the privately owned Mark Samuels Lasner
Mark Samuels Lasner
Mark Samuels Lasner is a recognized authority on the literature and art of the late Victorian era. He is also a collector, bibliographer and typographer...

 collection.

Personal life


Beerbohm married the actress Florence Kahn
Florence Kahn (actress)
Florence Kahn was a Jewish American actress and the first wife of caricaturist and parodist Sir Max Beerbohm.-Acting career:...

 in 1910. There has been speculation that he was a non-active homosexual
Homosexuality
Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same...

 (Malcolm Muggeridge
Malcolm Muggeridge
Thomas Malcolm Muggeridge was an English journalist, author, media personality, and satirist. During World War II, he was a soldier and a spy...

, who much disliked him, imputed homosexuality to him), that his marriage was never consummated, that he was a 'natural celibate' or even just asexual
Asexuality
Asexuality , in its broadest sense, is the lack of sexual attraction and, in some cases, the lack of interest in sex. Sometimes, it is considered a lack of a sexual orientation...

. David Cecil
Lord David Cecil
Edward Christian David Gascoyne-Cecil, CH , was a British biographer, historian and academic. He held the style of 'Lord' by courtesy, as a younger son of a marquess.-Early life and studies:...

 wrote that, "though he showed no moral disapproval of homosexuality, [Beerbohm] was not disposed to it himself; on the contrary he looked upon it as a great misfortune to be avoided if possible." Cecil quotes a letter from Beerbohm to Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s...

's friend Robert Ross
Robert Ross
Robert Ross may refer to:*Robert Ross, 5th Lord Ross , Scottish nobleman*Robert Ross, 9th Lord Ross , Scottish nobleman*Robert Ross , British botanist...

 in which he asks Ross to keep Reggie Turner from the clutches of Lord Alfred Douglas
Lord Alfred Douglas
Lord Alfred Bruce Douglas , nicknamed Bosie, was a British author, poet and translator, better known as the intimate friend and lover of the writer Oscar Wilde...

, "I really think Reg is at a rather crucial point of his career - and should hate to see him fall an entire victim to the love that dare not tell its name." The fact is that not much is known of Beerbohm's private life.

Evelyn Waugh also speculated that Beerbohm had made a mariage blanc
Mariage blanc
Mariage blanc is a marriage which is without consummation. The persons may have married for a variety of reasons, for example, a marriage of convenience is usually entered into in order to aid or rescue one of the principals of the marriage from persecution or harm; or for economic, social or visa...

 with Florence Kahn, but added, 'Beerbohm remarked of Ruskin
John Ruskin
John Ruskin was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, also an art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, a prominent social thinker and philanthropist. He wrote on subjects ranging from geology to architecture, myth to ornithology, literature to education, and botany to political...

 that it was surprising he should marry, without knowing he was impotent.' Waugh also observed, 'the question is of little importance in an artist of Beerbohm's quality.'

There was also some speculation during his lifetime that Beerbohm was Jewish. Muggeridge assumed that Beerbohm's Jewishness was certain. Beerbohm responded to the allegation by saying that, disappointingly for him, he was not. However, both of his wives were German Jews. When asked by George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60...

 if he had any Jewish ancestors, Beerbohm replied: "That my talent is rather like Jewish talent I admit readily... But, being in fact a Gentile, I am, in a small way, rather remarkable, and wish to remain so."
In his poem Hugh Selwyn Mauberley
Hugh Selwyn Mauberley
Hugh Selwyn Mauberley is a long poem by Ezra Pound. It has been regarded as a turning point in Pound's career , and its completion was swiftly followed by his departure from England. The name "Selwyn" might have been an homage to Rhymers' Club member Selwyn Image. The name and personality of the...

 Ezra Pound
Ezra Pound
Ezra Weston Loomis Pound was an American expatriate poet and critic and a major figure in the early modernist movement in poetry...

, a neighbour in Rapallo, caricatured Beerbohm as 'Brennbaum', a Jewish artist.

He was knighted by George VI
George VI of the United Kingdom
George VI was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death...

 in 1939; it was thought that this token of esteem had been delayed by his mockery in 1911 of the king's parents, about whom he had written a satiric verse. In 1942 the Maximilian Society was created in Beerbohm's honour, on the occasion of his seventieth birthday. Formed by a London drama critic, it was made up of 70 distinguished members, and planned to add one more member on each of Beerbohm's successive birthdays. In their first meeting a banquet was held to pay homage to the great man, and he was presented with seventy bottles of wine.

He died at the Villa Chiara, a private hospital in Rapallo
Rapallo
Rapallo is a municipality in the province of Genoa, in Liguria, northern Italy. As of 2007 it counts approximately 34,000 inhabitants, it is part of the Tigullio Gulf and is located in between Portofino and Chiavari....

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 aged 83, shortly after marrying his former secretary and companion, Elisabeth Jungmann
Elisabeth Jungmann
Elisabeth Jungmann was an interpreter and the secretary, literary executor and second wife of caricaturist and parodist Sir Max Beerbohm....

.

Beerbohm was cremated in Genoa
Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

 and his ashes were interred in the crypt of St. Paul's Cathedral, London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 on 29 June 1956.

Media Portrayals


In the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 1982 Playhouse drama Aubrey, written by John Selwyn Gilbert
John Selwyn Gilbert
John Selwyn Gilbert is a former British television scriptwriter, director and producer.-Early years:The son of Guildhall School of Music professor and flautist Geoffrey Gilbert, John Selwyn Gilbert attended the Hall School in Hampstead from 1949 to 1956, St. Paul's School from 1956 to 1960, and...

, Beerbohm was portrayed by actor Alex Norton
Alex Norton
Alexander Hugh "Alex" Norton is a Scottish actor. He is probably best known for his roles as DCI Matt Burke in Taggart, and Eddie in the Renford Rejects....

. The drama followed Aubrey Beardsley
Aubrey Beardsley
Aubrey Vincent Beardsley was an English illustrator and author. His drawings, done in black ink and influenced by the style of Japanese woodcuts, emphasized the grotesque, the decadent, and the erotic. He was a leading figure in the Aesthetic movement which also included Oscar Wilde and James A....

's life from the time of Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s...

’s arrest in April 1895, which resulted in Beardsley losing his position at The Yellow Book, to his death from tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

 in 1898.

Written works



  • The Works of Max Beerbohm
    The Works of Max Beerbohm
    The Works of Max Beerbohm was the first book published by English caricaturist, essayist and parodist Max Beerbohm. It was published in 1896 when Beerbohm was aged 24....

    , with a Bibliography by John Lane (1896)
  • The Happy Hypocrite
    The Happy Hypocrite
    The Happy Hypocrite: A Fairy Tale for Tired Men is a short story with moral implications, written by Max Beerbohm in 1897. His earliest short story, The Happy Hypocrite first appeared in The Yellow Book in 1897...

     (1897)
  • More (1899)
  • Yet Again (1909)
  • Zuleika Dobson
    Zuleika Dobson
    Zuleika Dobson, full title Zuleika Dobson, or, an Oxford love story, is a 1911 novel by Max Beerbohm, a satire of undergraduate life at Oxford. It was his only novel, but was nonetheless very successful...

    ; or, An Oxford Love Story (1911)
  • A Christmas Garland
    A Christmas Garland
    A Christmas Garland, Woven by Max Beerbohm is a collection of nineteen parodies written by English caricaturist, essayist and parodist Max Beerbohm. It was first published in the United Kingdom in October 1912 by Heinemann and in 1918 in the United States by Dutton & Co...

    , Woven by Max Beerbohm (1912)
  • Seven Men
    Seven Men
    Seven Men is a collection of short stories written by English caricaturist, essayist and parodist Max Beerbohm. It was published in Britain in 1919 by Heinemann and in the United States in 1920 by Alfred A. Knopf, and has been described as a "masterpiece."...

     (1919; enlarged edition as Seven Men, and Two Others, 1950)
  • Herbert Beerbohm Tree: Some Memories of Him and of His Art (1920, ed. by Max Beerbohm)
  • And Even Now (1920)
  • A Peep into the Past
    A Peep into the Past
    A Peep into the Past is a 1923 unauthorized and privately printed essay on Oscar Wilde by caricaturist and parodist Max Beerbohm.Beerbohm wrote this satire on Oscar Wilde in late 1893 or early 1894 for publication in the first number of The Yellow Book, but it was held over to make way for...

     (1923)
  • Around Theatres (1924)
  • A Variety of Things (1928)
  • The Dreadful Dragon of Hay Hill (1928)
  • Lytton Strachey (1943) Rede Lecture
    Rede Lecture
    The Sir Robert Rede's Lecturer is an annual appointment to give a public lecture, the Sir Robert Rede's Lecture at the University of Cambridge. It is named for Sir Robert Rede, who was Chief Justice of the Common Pleas in the sixteenth century.-Initial series:The initial series of lectures ranges...

  • Mainly on the Air
    Mainly on the Air
    Mainly on the Air was written by English caricaturist, essayist and parodist Max Beerbohm. It was published in 1946 by Heinemann and is a collection of the texts of a series of six BBC Radio broadcasts from 1935 to 1945 and six essays.-Background:...

     (1946; enlarged edition 1957)
  • The Incomparable Max: A Collection of Writings of Sir Max Beerbohm" (1962)
  • Max in Verse: Rhymes and Parodies (1963, ed. by J. G. Riewald)
  • Letters to Reggie Turner (1964, ed. by Rupert Hart-Davis
    Rupert Hart-Davis
    Sir Rupert Charles Hart-Davis was an English publisher, editor and man of letters. He founded the publishing company Rupert Hart-Davis Ltd...

    )
  • More Theatres, 1898–1903 (1969, ed. by Rupert Hart-Davis)
  • Selected Prose (1970, ed. by Lord David Cecil
    Lord David Cecil
    Edward Christian David Gascoyne-Cecil, CH , was a British biographer, historian and academic. He held the style of 'Lord' by courtesy, as a younger son of a marquess.-Early life and studies:...

    )
  • Max and Will: Max Beerbohm and William Rothenstein: Their Friendship and Letters (1975, ed. by Mary M. Lago and Karl Beckson)
  • Letters of Max Beerbohm: 1892–1956 (1988, ed. by Rupert Hart-Davis)
  • Last Theatres (1970, ed. by Rupert Hart-Davis)
  • A Peep into the Past and Other Prose Pieces (1972)
  • Max Beerbohm and "The Mirror of the Past" (1982, ed. Lawrence Danson)

Collections of caricatures

  • Caricatures of Twenty-five Gentlemen
    Caricatures of Twenty-five Gentlemen
    Caricatures of Twenty-five Gentlemen is a book of twenty-five caricatures by English caricaturist, essayist and parodist Max Beerbohm. It was published in 1896 by Leonard Smithers and Co and was Beerbohm's first book of caricatures....

     (1896)
  • The Poets' Corner
    The Poets' Corner
    The Poets' Corner is a book of twenty caricatures by English caricaturist, essayist and parodist Max Beerbohm. It was published in 1904 by William Heinemann, and was Beerbohm's second book of caricatures, the first being Caricatures of Twenty-five Gentlemen .Named after Poets’ Corner, the name...

     (1904)
  • A Book of Caricatures (1907)
  • Cartoons: The Second Childhood of John Bull (1911)
  • Fifty Caricatures
    Fifty Caricatures
    Fifty Caricatures is a book of fifty caricatures by English caricaturist, essayist and parodist Max Beerbohm. It was published in 1913 by William Heinemann in Britain and E.P. Dutton & Company in the United States...

     (1913)
  • A Survey
    A Survey
    A Survey is a book of fifty-two caricatures and humorous illustrations by British essayist, caricaturist and parodist Max Beerbohm. It was published in Britain in 1921 by William Heinemann and in the United States in the same year by Doubleday, Page & Company of New York.Beerbohm created the...

     (1921)
  • Rossetti and His Circle
    Rossetti and His Circle
    Rossetti and His Circle is a book of twenty-three caricatures by English caricaturist, essayist and parodist Max Beerbohm. Published in 1922 by William Heinemann, the drawings were Beerbohm's humorous imaginings concerning the life of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his fellow Pre-Raphaelites, the...

     (1922)
  • Things New and Old (1923)
  • Observations (1925)
  • Heroes and Heroines of Bitter Sweet (1931) five drawings in a portfolio
  • Max's Nineties: Drawings 1892–1899 (1958, ed. Rupert Hart-Davies and Allan Wade
    Allan Wade
    -Early life:Allan Wade was the son of the Rev. Stephen Wade of Boscastle in Cornwall and was educated at Blundell's School in Tiverton. In 1904 be went on the stage as a member of the F. R...

    )
  • Beerbohm's Literary Caricatures: From Homer to Huxley (1977, ed. J. G. Riewald)
  • Max Beerbohm Caricatures (1997, ed. N. John Hall)
  • Enoch Soames: A Critical Heritage (1997)

Further reading

  • Behrman, S. N., Portrait of Max. (1960)
  • Cecil, Lord David
    Lord David Cecil
    Edward Christian David Gascoyne-Cecil, CH , was a British biographer, historian and academic. He held the style of 'Lord' by courtesy, as a younger son of a marquess.-Early life and studies:...

    , Max: A Biography of Max Beerbohm. (1964, reprint 1985)
  • Danson, Lawrence. Max Beerbohm and the Act of Writing. (1989)
  • Felstiner, John. The Lies of Art: Max Beerbohm's Parody and Caricature. (1972)
  • Gallatin, A. H. Bibliography of the Works of Max Beerbohm. (1952)
  • Gallatin, A. H. Max Beerbohm: Bibliographical Notes. (1944)
  • Grushow, Ira. The Imaginary Reminiscences of Max Beerbohm. (1984)
  • Hall, N. John. Max Beerbohm: A Kind of a Life. (2002)
  • Hart-Davis, Rupert
    Rupert Hart-Davis
    Sir Rupert Charles Hart-Davis was an English publisher, editor and man of letters. He founded the publishing company Rupert Hart-Davis Ltd...

     A Catalogue of the Caricatures of Max Beerbohm. (1972)
  • Lago, Mary, and Karl Beckson, eds. Max and Will : Max Beerbohm and William Rothenstein, their friendship and letters, 1893-1945. (1975).
  • Lynch, Bohun. Max Beerbohm in Perspective. (1922)
  • McElderderry, Bruce J. Max Beerbohm. (1971)
  • Riewald, J. G. Sir Max Beerbohm, Man and Writer: A Critical Analysis with a Brief Life and Bibliography. (1953)
  • Riewald, J. G. The Surprise of Excellence: Modern Essays of Max Beerbohm. (1974)
  • Riewald, J. G. Remembering Max Beerbohm: Correspondence Conversations Criticisms. (1991)
  • Viscusi, Robert. Max Beerbohm, or the Dandy Dante: Rereading with Mirrors. (1986)
  • Waugh, Evelyn
    Evelyn Waugh
    Arthur Evelyn St. John Waugh , known as Evelyn Waugh, was an English writer of novels, travel books and biographies. He was also a prolific journalist and reviewer...

    . "Max Beerbohm: A Lesson in Manners." (Atlantic, September 1956)

External links