I went away to boarding school when I was nine years old. I say that without a hint of self-pity. I loved my school. In particular, I loved Mr John Storr who was a brilliant and inspirational English teacher. He read us Saki’s short stories. While preparing this list, I began to revisit those stories and I can see that in many ways they are simplistic, but I can also see why they captured my attention so entirely. ‘The Lumber Room’ was the first Saki story that Mr Storr read to us. At that time, I already had good cause to know that adults often lie to children, but I also knew that I must never speak of this knowledge. Saki was putting into words what could not be said. I was hooked.
First published in the Morning Post. Collected in Beasts and Super-Beasts, John Lane 1914, and Complete Short Stories, Penguin Modern Classics, 2000. Available variously online, including here