S. N. Behrman's delightful Portrait of Max tells how during World War II, when Londoners were "sleeping in the subways and in shelters," Beerbohm treated his listeners to a radio broadcast called "Music Halls of My Youth" during which he mentioned "Dan Leno, Little Tich, Albert Chevalier, George Robey, Marie Lloyd," and other performers.
In a letter to Sir Sydney Cockerell, Siegfried Sassoon wrote of this broadcast, "Max's talk I listened to with delight. For me it was and will be the only B.B.C. half-hour worth remembering in 1942. No words can express what I feel about it. I laughed aloud — but there were tears in my eyes too."
Behrman, a native of Worchester, Massachusetts, explains that "English music halls attracted a more literary and artistic crowd than did our vaudeville houses; Arthur Symons, Ernest Dowson, Herbert Home (who was not only the biographer of Botticelli but the architect of the Savoy Hotel), Oscar Wilde, Selwyn Image, Walter Sickert, and Max were habitués" (226) At the Tivoli, Beerbohm first encountered the young Cissie Loftus whom he later mentions in "A Defence of Cosmetics." She was the first of several beautiful actresses with whom he fell madly in love, the last being his wife of many happy years, Florence Kahn an American with flame-read hair that reminded many of Lizzie Siddall.
Behrman, S. N. Portrait of Max: An Intimate Memoir of Sir Max Beerbohm. New York: Random House, 1960.
Last modified 9 May 2008