The Happy Hypocrite by Max Beerbohm
Max Beerbohm’s (1872-1956) adult fairy tale, The Happy Hypocrite, is sometimes described as a more lighthearted version of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. It is the story of a thoroughly immoral man who deceives a young woman into marriage by wearing a mask. Through his love for his wife he is then transformed into a good and humble human being.
The short story first appeared in the literary periodical The Yellow Book in 1896 and was later published 1897. In 1900 it was adapted into a stage show starring the formidable Mrs Patrick Campbell and was revived again in 1936 with Vivien Leigh. The edition in the photographs with colour illustrations by George Sheringham was published by John Lane in November, 1918.
George Bernard Shaw gave Beerbohm the lasting epithet “the Incomparable Max” and his other works include Zuleika Dobson which was ranked 59th on the Modern Library list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. He was also a popular caricaturist whose work appeared in all the fashionable periodicals of his time. Major collections of Beerbohm’s caricatures can be found in the Ashmolean Museum, the Tate collection and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The illustrator George Sheringham is best known for his theatrical designs for D’Oyly Carte Opera Company for which he created sets for productions including H.M.S. Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance.
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