When William Came

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When William Came
Author Saki
Publisher John Lane
Publication date
Preceded by The Unbearable Bassington
Followed by Beasts and Super-Beasts

When William Came: A Story of London Under the Hohenzollerns is a novel written by British author Saki (the pseudonym of Hector Hugh Munro) and published in 1913.[1] It is set several years in what was then the future, after a war between Germany and Great Britain from which Germany emerged victorious.[2]


The "William" of the book's title is Kaiser Wilhelm II, who came from the House of Hohenzollern, hence the subtitle. The book chronicles life in London under German occupation and the changes that come with a foreign army's invasion and triumph. Like Robert Erskine Childers's novel The Riddle of the Sands (1903), it predicts the Great War (in which Saki would be killed)[3] and is an example of invasion literature, a literary genre which flourished at the beginning of the 20th century as tensions between the European great powers increased.[4]

Much of the book is an argument for compulsory military service,[5] about which there was then a major controversy. The scene in which an Imperial Rescript is announced in a subjugated London, excusing the unmilitary British from serving in the Kaiser's armies, is particularly bitter. There are also several vignettes exemplifying the differences between the English and continental systems of law: for example, the moment when the hero's hostess informs him that she must register his presence under her roof with the police, and the incident in which he is fined on the spot for walking on the grass in Hyde Park. In another episode, he finds himself unintentionally but unavoidably fraternising with one of the invaders.[6]


It has been collected in:

It has been reprinted with

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Munroe, Hector Hugh. in Chambers Biographical Dictionary. London: Chambers Harrap. 2011. 
  2. ^ Gibson, Brian (31 May 2012). "'The Unrest-Cure' and Saki's Uneasy Anti-Semitism". Jewish Culture and History 9 (1): 27–50. doi:10.1080/1462169X.2007.10512065. 
  3. ^ Hitchens, Christopher (June 2008). "Where the wild things are: the enduring, untamable appeal of Saki's short stories". The Atlantic 301 (5): 109. 
  4. ^ Kemp, Peter (3 October 2004). "Masters of Shock and Awe". Sunday Times (London). 
  5. ^ Stearn, Tom (2008). "The Case for Conscription". History today 58 (4). 
  6. ^ Hitchner, Thomas (2010). "Edwardian Spy Literature and the Ethos of Sportsmanship: the sport of spying". English Literature in Transition: 1880-1920 53 (4): 413–130. 

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