Hector Hugh Munro was born in 1870 in Burma, the son of a senior official in the Burma police. He was brought up in Devonshire and went to school in Exmouth and at Bedford Grammar School; later his father retired and took over his education by travelling with him widely in Europe. He joined the Burma police, but resigned because of ill health after a year's service. He began his writing career with political sketches for the Westminster Gazette and then worked as a foreign correspondent for the Morning Post in the Balkans, Russia and Paris. During this time he brought out his first collection of short stories, Reginald (1904). This was followed by Reginald in Russia (1910), The Chronicles of Clovis (1911), The Unbearable Bassington (1912) and Beasts and Superbeasts (1914). In 1914 he published When William Came, a pro-war fantasy of England under German occupation; his 'patriotic' sketches from the Western Front were collected as The Square Egg (1924).
He enlisted as a private in 1914, refused a commission, went to France and was killed in 1916 at Beaumont Hamel. His pseudonym 'Saki' is taken from the last stanza of The Ruba'iyat of Omar Khayyam.