Bruce Gaston

Published On


Page Range

pp. 1–10


  • English

Print Length

10 pages


  • Bruce Gaston (author)
This book collects thirteen short stories by ‘Saki’ (Hector Hugh Munro): ten in their original periodical versions and three that had been forgotten until recently. The first ten were rewritten when they were reprinted as part of the volume The Chronicles of Clovis (1911). Reconstructing the composition/publishing process from Munro’s correspondence with his new publisher (John Lane at The Bodley Head), I argue that the title was imposed on Munro, who acquiesced by writing more stories featuring his Clovis character and by reworking older works so that Clovis appeared in them. The intention in doing so was to give the collection more of a thematic unity, and thereby anticipate the difficulty that publishers felt they had in interesting the reading public in volumes of unconnected stories. Munro also made another concession to his publisher in a significantly rewritten and expanded version of his political fantasy ‘Ministers of Grace’, which unfortunately only obscured the satirical thrust of the original version. Similarly, readers will likely prefer the originals of the other stories before they were distorted to include Clovis.
‘Mrs. Pendercoet’s Lost Identity’ is adduced here, being an example of a contemporaneous story that could be given a differently named protagonist because it was not destined to be part of The Chronicles of Clovis. ‘The Romance of Business’, conversely, is a later example of a Clovis story, unusual because it was written on commission. These two rediscovered stories are accompanied by another, ‘The Optimist’, which showcases Munro’s ability to cater for a wider public by writing in a more naturalistic and serious way.


Bruce Gaston


Bruce Gaston has taught at the English Department of the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität, Heidelberg, Germany since 2008. His current research interests focus on British and Irish literature, culture and history in the first half of the twentieth century. He blogs about Saki and related issues at