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Compton Mackenzie


Compton Mackenzie
(1883—1972)

Writer

A Scot by inclination, English-born Compton Mackenzie was regarded as one of the most promising writing talents of his generation. His output was prolific, and his most famous comedy, Whisky Galore, used the backdrop of his Barra home. It was based on the real-life story of the wartime wrecking of the SS Politician. Mackenzie was a founder member of the SNP.

More About Compton Mackenzie. Edward Montague Compton Mackenzie, best remembered by later generations as the author of Whisky Galore was in every way a big character. That novel was just one of his Iittle jokes, in a career chat spread all over the place.

He was born in 1883 in West Hartlepool, but, as another writer has explained, that was merely to be near his mother, who was there at the time. His first book, The Passionate Elopement, was published when he was 28. He followed that with Carnival the next year, and Sinister Street. During the First World War he served in the Gallipoli campaign, and in the British Intelligence service in the Near East. He left the service to work as a writer, an occupation that kept him endlessly occupied. He wrote over a hundred novels, and his Four Winds of Lore, published in four volumes between 1937 and 1945, is still a gripping story of intrigue, conflict and romance.

Compton Mackenzie was a profoundly Scottish man, a genuine Scottish nationalist, and the Whisky Galore book, published in 1947, was a very Scottish parody of English officialdom. He celebrated a real-life event, when in wartime a ship carrying a cargo of whisky to America foundered off a Hebridean island. The locals swarmed out to grab the scarce and precious stuff and escape Britain's sober austerity with a plentiful supply of good drams.

Mackenzie was over 70 when he produced another satirical stab. Rockets Galore, about the absurdity of putting missiles in the Hebrides. His autobiography, My Life and Times, an enormous work in 10 volumes, still has a razor-sharpness and charm. He chose Edinburgh as his home, and was one of its great social assets until his death in 1972..