||Edward Montague Compton Mackenzie
17 January 1883
West Hartlepool, England
||30 November 1972
|Cause of death
||Author and nationalist
The Monarch of the Glen
||Faith Stone (1905-1960) her death
Christine McSween (1962-1963) her death
Lillian McSween (1965-1972) his death
||Fay Compton (sister)
Henry Compton (grandfather)
Sir (Edward Montague) Compton Mackenzie, OBE (/ˈkʌmptən məˈkɛnzɪ/; 1883–1972) was a writer and a Scottish nationalist.
Compton Mackenzie was born in West Hartlepool, England, into a theatrical family of Mackenzies, but many of whose members used Compton as their stage surname, starting with his grandfather Henry Compton, a well-known Shakespearean actor of the Victorian era. His father, Edward Compton, was an actor and theatre company manager; his sister, Fay Compton, starred in many of J. M. Barrie's plays, including Peter Pan.
He was educated at St Paul's School and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he graduated with a degree in modern history.
Sir Compton Mackenzie is perhaps best known for two comedies set in Scotland, the Hebridean Whisky Galore (1947) and the Highland The Monarch of the Glen (1941), sources of a successful film and a television series respectively. He published almost a hundred books on different subjects, including ten volumes of autobiography, My Life and Times (1963–1971). He also wrote history (on Marathon and Salamis), biography (Mr Roosevelt, 1943, a biography of FDR), literary criticism, satires, apologia (Sublime Tobacco 1957), children's stories, poetry, and so on. Of his fiction, The Four Winds of Love is considered to be his magnum opus. It is described by Dr. John MacInnes (formerly of the School of Scottish Studies) as "one of the greatest works of English literature produced in the twentieth century."
He was an influence on the young F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose first book, This Side of Paradise, was written while under his spell. Sinister Street, his lengthy 1913-14 bildungsroman, influenced the young and impressed established writers. Against the rules, George Orwell and Cyril Connolly read it as schoolboys. Max Beerbohm praised Mackenzie's writing for vividness and emotional reality Frank Swinnerton, literary critic, comments on Mackenzie's "detail and wealth of reference". John Betjeman said of it, "This has always seemed to me one of the best novels of the best period in English novel writing." Henry James thought it to be the most remarkable book written by a young author in his lifetime.
Following his conversion to Catholicism in 1914, he explored religious themes in a trilogy of novels, The Altar Steps (1922), The Parson's Progress (1923), and The Heavenly Ladder (1924). Following his time on Capri, socialising with the gay exiles there, he treated the homosexuality of a politician sensitively in Thin Ice (1956).
He was the literary critic for the London-based national newspaper Daily Mail.
Mackenzie also worked as an actor, political activist and broadcaster. He served with British Intelligence in the Eastern Mediterranean during the First World War, later publishing four books on his experiences.
According to these books, he was commissioned in the Royal Marines, rising to the rank of Captain. His ill-health making front-line service impractical, he was assigned counter-espionage work during the Gallipoli campaign, and in 1916 built up a considerable counter-intelligence network in Athens, Greece then being neutral. While his secret service work seems to have been valued highly by his superiors, including Sir Mansfield Smith-Cumming, his passionate political views, especially his support for the Venezilists, made him a controversial figure and he was expelled from Athens after the Noemvriana.
In 1917, he founded the Aegean Intelligence Service, and enjoyed considerable autonomy for some months as its Director. He was offered the Presidency of the Republic of Cerigo, which was briefly independent while Greece was split between Royalists and Venezilists, but declined the office. He was recalled in September 1917. Smith-Cumming considered appointing him as his Deputy, but withdrew the suggestion after opposition from within his own service, and Mackenzie played no further active role in the war. In 1919, be was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), and was also honoured with the French Legion of Honour, the Serbian Order of the White Eagle, and the Greek Order of the Redeemer.
After the publication of his Greek Memories in 1932, he was prosecuted at the Old Bailey under the Official Secrets Act for quoting from supposedly secret documents. His account of the trial, vividly described, is in Octave Seven (1931-1938) of his autobiography: the result was a fine of £100 and (prosecution) costs of £100. His own costs were over £1,000. Mackenzie states that a plea-bargain (described in the text as "an arrangement") had been reached with the judge prior to the trial: in exchange for his pleading guilty, he would be fined £500 with £500 costs. However Sir Thomas Inskip, then then Attorney General who prosecuted the case, succeeded in annoying the trial judge to such an extent that he then reduced the penalties to a token amount.
He was Knighted in 1952.
He was president of the Croquet Association from 1953 to 1966. He was also president of the Siamese Cat Club. 
In 1923 he and his brother-in-law Christopher Stone founded The Gramophone, the still-influential classical music magazine.
A strong supporter of Edward VIII, Mackenzie was a leading member of the Octavians, a minor society that campaigned in support of the king and also for his return to the UK after he became the Duke of Windsor. According to a 1938 Time article Mackenzie had intended to write a book in support of Edward but abandoned the plan when the Duke of Windsor asked him not to publish.
Between 1913 and 1920 he lived with his wife, Faith, on Capri, and returned to visit in later years. This Italian island near Sorrento was known to be tolerant not just of foreigners in general, but of artists and homosexuals in particular. Faith had an affair with the Italian pianist Renata Borgatti, who was connected to Romaine Brooks.
Compton Mackenzie's observations on the local life of the Italian islanders and foreign residents led to at least two novels, Vestal Fire (1927) and Extraordinary Women (1928). The latter, a roman à clef about a group of lesbians arriving on the island of Sirene, a fictional version of Capri, was published in Britain in the same year as two other ground-breaking novels with lesbian themes, Virginia Woolf's love letter to Vita Sackville-West, Orlando, and Radclyffe Hall's controversial polemic The Well of Loneliness, but Mackenzie's satire did not attract legal attention.
He was friends with Axel Munthe, who built Villa San Michele, and Edwin Cerio, who later became mayor of Capri.
Grave of Compton MacKenzie, Eolaigearraidh, Barra
Mackenzie went to great lengths to trace the steps of his ancestors back to his spiritual home in the Highlands, and displayed a deep and tenacious attachment to Gaelic culture throughout his long and very colourful life. As his biographer, Andro Linklater, commented, "Mackenzie wasn't born a Scot, and he didn't sound like a Scot. But nevertheless his imagination was truly Scottish."
He was an ardent Jacobite, the third Governor-General of the Royal Stuart Society, and a co-founder of the Scottish National Party. He was rector of University of Glasgow from 1931 to 1934, defeating Oswald Mosley, who later led the British Union of Fascists, in his bid for the job.
Mackenzie was from 1920–1923 Tenant of Herm and Jethou. He shares many similarities to the central character in D. H. Lawrence's short story "The Man Who Loved Islands", despite Lawrence saying "the man is no more he than I am." Mackenzie at first asked Martin Secker, who published both authors, not to print the story, and it was left out of one collection.
Mackenzie built a house on the island of Barra in the 1930s. It was on Barra that he gained much inspiration and found creative solitude, and where he befriended a great number of people that he described as "the aristocrats of democracy". One such friend was John MacPherson, known as "The Coddy". MacPherson's son, Neil, recalled Mackenzie as a man of huge imagination, generosity, and talent.
He died in Edinburgh. Such was his love of the Scottish Highlands that he is buried in Barra.
Mackenzie was married three times. In 1905, he married Faith Stone, who died in 1960; then in 1962, he married Christina MacSween – who died the following year. Finally, he married his dead wife's sister, Lillian MacSween in 1965.
He converted to Catholicism in 1914.
- The Gentleman in Grey (1907), a play
- The Passionate Elopement (1911), a revision of the play into a novel
- Carnival (1912), an early best-seller
- Sinister Street (1914), a bildungsroman
- Guy and Pauline (1915)
- The Early Life and Adventures of Sylvia Scarlett (1918), filmed in 1935 as Sylvia Scarlett
- The Altar Steps (1922), and its sequels
- Santa Claus in Summer (1924)
- The Old Men Of the Sea (1924)
- Vestal Fire (1927)
- Extraordinary Women (1928)
- Gallipoli Memories (1929)
- Athenian Memories (1931)
- Greek Memories (1932)
- Water on the Brain (1933), an absurdist spy novel parody.
- The Monarch of the Glen (1941)
- Wind of Freedom: The history of the invasion of Greece by the Axis powers, 1940-1941 (1944)
- The Four Winds of Love (6 volumes 1937–45)
- Whisky Galore (1947), filmed in 1948 as Whisky Galore!
- Hunting the Fairies (1949)
- The Rival Monster (1952)
- Rockets Galore (1957), a sequel, filmed in 1958 as Rockets Galore!
- Thin Ice (1956)
- The Lunatic Republic (1959)
- Cats' Company (1960) with photos by Harrison Marks
- The Stolen Soprano (1965)
- The Stairs That Kept Going Down (1967)
- My Life and Times in ten volumes each covering eight years, published as "Octave One" to "Octave Ten"(1963 - 1971)
- ^ Frank Norris and Scott Fitzgerald,Henry Dan Piper. Huntington Library Quarterly. Vol. 19, No. 4 (Aug., 1956), pp. 393-400 (article consists of 8 pages)Published by: University of California Press. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3816401
- ^ Cyril Connolly Enemies of Promise (White Samite) Routledge & Kegan Paul 1938
- ^ Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume I Letter to Connolly 14 December 1938 Secker & Warburg 1968
- ^ On Compton Mackenzie: Allan Massie
- ^ Sir Compton Mackenzie: Gallipoli Memories
- ^ Sir Compton Mackenzie: Athenian Memories
- ^ Sir Compton Mackenzie: Greek Memories
- ^ Sir Compton Mackenzie: Aegean Memories
- ^ Faber author page
- ^ Martin Pugh, "Hurrah for the Blackshirts!" Fascists and Fascism in Britain Between the Wars, Pimlico, 2006, p. 260
- ^ Foreign News: Want Him Back!
- ^ Infinite variety: the life and legend of the Marchesa Casati By Scot D. Ryersson, Michael Orlando Yaccarino, p99
- ^ Castle, Terry (2005). The Literature of Lesbianism: A Historical Anthology from Ariosto to Stonewall. Columbia University Press. p. 38. ISBN 0231125119.
- ^ http://www.capridream.com/ing/per-campton.htm
- ^ Tamagne, Florence (2006). A history of homosexuality in Europe: Berlin, London, Paris, 1919-1939, volume I & II. A History Of Homosexuality In Europe. 1-2. Algora Publishing. p. 322. ISBN 0875863558.
- ^ 
- ^ University History page
Works related to Compton MacKenzie at Wikisource