Saki was the pseudonym of Hector Hugh Munro. He was born in Burma in 1870, the youngest of three children. His mother died when he was an infant, so he, his brother and sister were raised in Devon by two aunts, most of whose deeply unpleasant characteristics appear in the stories. When he was twenty-three, he joined the military police in Burma (cf George Orwell a generation later), following the military traditions of his family. However, recurrent attacks of malaria enforced his resignation a year later, and, after recuperating in England, he joined the Westminster Gazette in 1896 as a political sketch writer. (These satires were later published as The Westminster Alice and The Not So Stories.)
A serious historical work, The Rise of the Russian Empire, was published in 1900. Munro became Balkan correspondent of the Tory Morning Post in 1902, and between then and 1908 be covered Russia, Poland and Paris as well. Reginald, originally published in the Westminster Gazette, appeared in book form in 1904, followed by Reginald in Russia (1910), The Chronicles of Clovis (1911) and Beasts and SuperBeasts (1914); the other stories were published posthumously. He enlisted in the ranks in 1914 at the outbreak of the First World War, although he was well over the age-limit. By 1916 he was a Lance-Sergeant in the 22nd Royal Fusiliers. He was killed by a sniper on the dark morning of 14th November 1916; his last words before being shot were, Put that bloody cigarette out.
Although Munros pseudonym Saki is described by the Oxford Companion to English Literature as being of unknown origin, Ethel Munro points out that her brother chose the name of the cup-bearer in the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám, a favourite book.