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When William Came

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When William Came by Saki
At the time of writing When William Came was set several years in the future, after a fictional war between Germany and Great Britain, which Germany had won. The book is a story of life in London after Germany occupation, and the changes that come with it. Novels such as this harnessed England's fear of invasion to such an extent that the daily press published public sightings of German spies and saboteurs on a regular basis. Such was the paranoia that the British Secret Service was purportedly established to investigate these espionage claims. In 1914, Monro felt that appeasement was the wrong way to deal with Germany; he wanted to sound a warning that if the British did not prepare for war, the consequence would be subjugation. This novel is the consequence, propaganda swiftly overtaken by events; he wanted to portray a Britain which had lost a war and been annexed by Germany to shock public opinion towards war preparation.

When William Came: A Story of London Under the Hohenzollerns was written by the British author Saki (the pseudonym of Hector Hugh Munro) and published in November 1913. It is set several years in what was then the future, after a war between Germany and Great Britain in which the former won.

The "William" of the book's title is Kaiser Wilhelm II of the House of Hohenzollern. The book chronicles life in London under German occupation and the changes that come with a foreign army's invasion and triumph. Like Robert Erskine Childers's novel The Riddle of the Sands (1903), it predicts the Great War (in which Saki would be killed) and is an example of invasion literature, a literary genre which flourished at the beginning of the 20th century as tensions between the European great powers increased. Much of the book is an argument for compulsory military service, about which there was then a major controversy. The scene in which an Imperial Rescript is announced in a subjugated London, excusing the unmilitary British from serving in the Kaiser's armies, is particularly bitter. There are also several vignettes exemplifying the differences between the English and continental systems of law - Yeovil's wife informs him that she must register his presence with the police and later he is fined on the spot for walking on the grass in Hyde Park. In another episode, he finds himself unintentionally but unavoidably fraternising with one of the invaders.

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