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Famous Like Me > Writer > M > Compton MacKenzie

Profile of Compton MacKenzie on Famous Like Me

Name: Compton MacKenzie  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 17th January 1883
Place of Birth: West Hartlepool, England, UK
Profession: Writer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Sir (Edward Montague) Compton Mackenzie, (1883–1972), was an Scottish novelist. He wrote the novels The Passionate Elopement in 1911, Carnival in 1912, Sinister Street in 1913/1914, Extremes Meet in 1928, Whisky Galore in 1947, Rockets Galore in 1957 and autobiography My Life and Times between 1963 and 1971.

He was born into a theatrical family (though not in Scotland). His father, Edward Compton, was an actor and theater company manager; his sister, Fay Compton, starred in many of James M. Barrie's plays, including Peter Pan.

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 in the programme, "MacKenzie wasn't born a Scot, and he didn't sound like a Scot. But nevertheless his imagination was truly Scottish."

He served with British Intelligence during World War One. He was Tenant of Herm 1920–1923 and 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 then I am." Mackenzie at first asked Secker, who published both authors, not to print the story and it was left out of one collection.

Best known perhaps for his Hebridean comedies "Whisky Galore" and "Monarch of the Glen" (sources of a successful film and a television miniseries respectively), Sir Compton MacKenzie published almost a hundred books on different subjects, including ten volumes of autobiography. Of his fiction, The Four Winds Of Love is considered to be his magnum opus. It is described by interviewee Dr John MacInnes, (formerly of The School of Scottish Studies), as "one of the greatest works of English literature produced in the twentieth century."

Mackenzie was married three times and aside from his writing also worked as an actor, political activist, and broadcaster.

A co-founder of the Scottish National Party, Mackenzie built a house on the Isle of Barra in Scotland in the 1930s, just one of the islands in Europe where he established a temporary residence. It was on Barra that he gained much inspiration and creative solitude, and where he befriended a great number of people in the community he described as "the aristocrats of democracy". One such friend was John MacPherson, known as "The Coddy". MacPherson's son, Neil, also took part in the programme, recalling MacKenzie as a man of huge imagination, generosity and talent.

Such was Sir Compton MacKenzie's love of the Scottish Highlands that he is buried in Barra, where he is still very fondly remembered.


  • The Gentleman in Grey (1907)
  • The Passionate Elopement (1911)
  • Carnival (1912)
  • Sinister Street (1914)
  • Vestal Fire (1927)
  • Extraordinary Women (1928)
  • Gallipoli Memories (1929)
  • Athenian Memories (1931)
  • Greek Memories (1932)
  • The Monarch of the Glen (1941)
  • The Four Winds of Love (6 volumes 1937-45)
  • Whisky Galore! (1947)
  • The Rival Monster (1952)
  • Rockets Galore (1957)
  • Thin Ice (1956)
  • My Life and Times (1971)

External link

  • Compton Mackenzie at the Internet Movie Database

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Compton MacKenzie