Max Beerbohm

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.

Sir Max Beerbohm

Sir Max Beerbohm

Sassoon and Tennant left Rapallo and travelled to Naples and then on to Sicily.This visit inspired Sassoon to write his poem ‘In Sicily,’ which was illustrated by Tennant. During this period Sassoon was trying to write the manuscript for his new book ‘Memoirs of an Infantry Officer’ but Stephen was not making things easy for him. When they left Rapallo they promised Max they would return to see him before heading home. They arrived back on 8th of April and stayed for three weeks. Sassoon showed Max his finished manuscript of ‘Memoirs of an Infantry Officer’ and he was full of praise for it. From that moment on Sassoon would send all of his books to Max to be checked, and dedicated a later work, ‘The Old Century’ to Beerbohm.

Alexander Pope

Rapallo 12.4.30

Sotheby's Label


Alexander Pope - By Edith Sitwell, First Edition, published in 1930 by Faber & Faber. This is actually, one of at least two copies owned by Sassoon - with his ink ownership monogram in the upper corner of the front pastedown, dated "Rapallo 12.4.30," and with his manuscript corrections, queries, or comments in at least four places in the text.

Sassoon was on his return visit to the Beerbohm’s at Rapallo with Stephen Tennant, when he acquired this book and wrote his monogram in it along with the date. It is likely that Max gave it to him as a gift, as they both knew Edith Sitwell. Laid in are the clipped spine panel of the dust jacket, front jacket picture, three clippings related to Pope, and a clipping of J. C. Squires's review of this book for THE OBSERVER. Sassoon and Edith Sitwell connected as early as 1917, when through Robert Ross, she wrote to him at Craiglockhart to commend him on his anti-war statement. There ensued a long acquaintance, made difficult by Sassoon's animosity toward her brother Osbert. In 1930, she wrote to him in the wake of a lapse in their friendship: " were one of my most intimate friends, and I have missed you more than I can say...." The following year she dedicated JANE BARSTON, one of her poems in the original Ariel Poems series, to him. The Sotheby’s posthumous library dispersal label appears on the front pastedown to show the book came from Sassoon’s own library.

Caricatures drawn by Max Beerbohm - Issued with The Spectator in 1931

The seven prints opposite are caricatures drawn by Max Beerbohm and issued with The Spectator magazine in 1931. Beerbohm was a great caricaturist and he often sketched his friends and other well-known personalities of the time. These pictures include Sir Oswald Moseley, John Masefield and his good friend Siegfried Sassoon.

I am not sure if this is a full set of the prints issued by the magazine. All are in very good condition.


Auction Catalogue - The Library and Literary Manuscripts of the Late Sir Max Beerbohm

Auction Catalogue

Lady Florence Beerbohm (nee Kahn), died at Rapallo in 1951 aged 72. Sir Max Beerbohm (he was knighted in 1939), died at Rapallo in 1956 aged 83. Sir Max married his companion and secretary, Elisabeth Jungmann, on his death bed to ensure that under Italian law she would inherit all his possessions. After her own death in 1958 her sister Eva Reichmann became executor of Sir Max Beerbohm’s literary estate.

The catalogue opposite is the sale catalogue for all of the literary items that were removed from Rapallo. The date of the sale was 12th and 13th December 1960 and included the following books by Siegfried Sassoon: Vigils, The Daffodil Murderer. Recreations, Lingual Exercises, Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man, Rhymed Ruminations, Collected Poems and Memoirs of an Infantry Officer. Some First editions and some signed.

The Old Century and Seven More Years

The Old Century Proof Copy

Sassoon dedicated his book ‘The Old Century and Seven More Years’ to his great friend Max Beebohm. I am fortunate to have a proof copy of this book in my collection.

Letters to Max Beerbohm

Letters to Max Beerbohm

Faber and Faber published this book, ‘Siegfried Sassoon Letters to Max Beerbohm & a Few Answers’, edited by Rupert Hart Davis, in 1986.

The Works of Max Beerbohm

The Works of Max Beerbohm

The Works of Max Beerbohm. Published in 1922 by William Hienemann, London. This book was published in a limited edition of 780 copies, this being number 346 and signed by the author.

Max Beerbohm became a very close friend of Siegfried Sassoon and helped him with his books, including proof reading and other literary advice.

Limited Edition

A Tribute to Sir Max Beerbohm 1956 (Radio Broadcast) - By Siegfried Sassoon

Tribute to Sir Max Beerbohm

Tribute to Sir Max Beerbohm

Tribute to Sir Max beerbohm

A Tribute To Sir Max Beerbohm - Recorded in Heytesbury on 28th June, 1956, for Home Service Transmission. Produced by Douglas Cleverdon. This was Sassoon’s own copy, he wrote on the title page ‘To be done on Home Service. August 22nd, 9.50 - 10.5.’ Sassoon has made a couple of corrections to the text in his own hand and would have read from this eight page document during the transmission of his ‘Tribute.’ This document bears the Sotheby’s monogram proving that it came from his own library. Sassoon and Sir Max Beerbohm had been the greatest of friends and Sassoon missed him dearly when he passed away. Sassoon dedicated his book ‘The Old Century And Seven More Years’ to Sir Max, who had helped him greatly by reading the proofs and correcting them. Sassoon made a number of trips to stay with Sir Max at his villa at Rapallo, Italy.

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