Max Beerbohm, (1872-1956), caricaturist, writer and broadcaster was one of Siegfried Sassoon's literary heroes. They first met in 1916 at the London home of critic and autobiographer Edmund Gosse and since then Sassoon had been sending Beerbohm his privately printed books as a token of esteem. In 1910 Beerbohm and his wife Florence moved to Italy and settled at the Villino Chiaro, on the Via Aurelia just outside Rapallo.
At a chance meeting at the home of William Nicholson on Christmas Eve 1928 where Sassoon had gone to discuss the illustrations Nicholson was preparing for ‘Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man,’ Sassoon again met Beerbohm. Sassoon took the opportunity to invite his hero to tea in Campden Hill Square, in January 1929. Sassoon’s lover Stephen Tennant was present when Beerbohm visited and a friendship was struck up resulting in Beerbohm inviting both of them to visit him and Florence at Rapallo.
In November 1929 Sassoon and Tenant arrived at the Villino Chiaro overlooking the Bay of Genoa just outside Rapallo. They stayed for a week, Rapallo was cold in December which did not suit Tennant’s lungs as he was suffering with TB.