Born in London in 1872, Henry Maximilian Beerbohm was a caricaturist and writer. He attended Mr Wilkinson’s school in Orme Square from 1881 to 1885, where he was given the only drawing lessons he is said to have received. Following a further five years of schooling at Charterhouse School, where he began drawing caricatures, he went up to Merton College, Oxford to study Classics. Oxford was the perfect place for him to develop his dandyism and aestheticism and, whilst there, he became friends with Oscar Wilde and the novelist Reggie Turner. His professional career began when, in 1892, the Strand magazine published a series of his caricatures and, by the time he was twenty-four, he had received considerable acclaim, having drawn caricatures for The Yellow Book, Sketch, The Pall Mall Budget, Pick-Me-Up and for a collection known as Caricatures of Twenty-Five Gentlemen.
Beerbohm’s first public exhibition took place in 1896 when he contributed six caricatures to the Fine Art Society’s exhibition, A century and a half of English humorous art, from Hogarth to the present day. He also had several solo exhibitions at the Carfax Gallery from 1901 to 1908, as well as contributing to group exhibitions from 1909 to 1911. He exhibited his work in the Leicester Galleries, London showing there exclusively from 1911 until 1952.
From 1898 Beerbohm also worked as a drama critic for the Saturday Review. He left the newspaper in 1910 to marry an American actress, Florence Kahn, and to move with her to Rapallo in Italy, where he spent the rest of his life. He returned to England occasionally, during the two world wars, for example, and to arrange exhibitions of his work. He also worked for the BBC from 1935, reading essays for radio broadcasts. He wrote essays throughout his life, receiving praise from such luminaries as George Bernard Shaw and Virginia Woolf.
Beerbohm was knighted in 1939, he received an honorary degree from Oxford in 1942, and three years later, he was made an honorary fellow of Merton College. He died at Rapallo in 1956.