Max: Sir Max Beerbohm

David Cecil
Date Published
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Max Beerbohm is one of those figures, like Dr Johnson and Oscar Wilde, as well known as a personality as he is an artist. He was a superb parodist and cartoonist, and he was the leading wit and dandy of the Edwardian age. His very first book was boldly entitled The Works of Max Beerbohm (a collection of seven essays). He wrote mainly in miniature forms but his most famous work is his only novel Zuleika Dobson, a comic fantasy about undergraduate life at Oxford in the 1890s.

David Cecil was appointed by Max Beerbohm to be his biographer. The choice could not have been more apt. Granted access to his private papers, David Cecil provides an intimate portrait of an odd, brilliant and most lovable human being, who was also a deeper and more considerable character than his façade betrayed.

Besides being a picture of a man, this book is the picture of an age. In it the literary, theatrical and fashionable worlds of the 1890s and of Edward VII’s reign appear in vivid detail as seen through the amused but penetrating eyes of Max: he knew everyone worth knowing in that era and had something to say about each of them.

‘He has assembled all the available facts in a way to leave us grateful.’ Evelyn Waugh, Sunday Times

‘Here, exhibiting a small, delightful talent, is a large delightful book.’ J. I. M. Stewart, Listener