Mackay was born in Greenock on February 6, 1864. His mother came from a prosperous Hamburg family. His father was a Scottish marine insurance broker who died when the child was less than two years old. at which point mother and son returned to Germany, where Mackay grew up.
Mackay lived in Berlin from 1896 onwards, and became a friend of scientist and Gemeinschaft der Eigenen co-founder Benedict Friedlaender.
Mackay died in Stahnsdorf on May 16, 1933, ten days after the Nazi book burnings at the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft. Adolf Hitler had become Reichskanzler on January 30, 1933, and all activities of the German homosexual emancipation movement soon ceased. Allegations that Mackay's death may have been a suicide have been disputed: Mackay died on 16 May 1933 in the office of his doctor, only a few houses from his own, apparently of a heart attack. He was also suffering from stones in his bladder. -- Kennedy, Hubert. Anarchist of Love: The Secret Life of John Henry Mackay
Using the pseudonym Sagitta, Mackay wrote a series of works for pederastic emancipation, titled Die Bücher der namenlosen Liebe (Books of the Nameless Love). This series was conceived in 1905 and completed in 1913 and included the Fenny Skaller, a story of a pederast. Under his real name he also published fiction, such as Der Schwimmer (1901) and, again as Sagitta, he published a pederastic novel of the Berlin boy-bars, Der Puppenjunge (The Hustler) (1926).
From 1906, the writings and theories of Mackay had a significant influence on Adolf Brand's organisation Gemeinschaft der Eigenen. Mackay was also a key populariser of the work of Max Stirner (1806–1856) outside Germany, writing a biography of the philosopher which also added greatly to the understanding of the work of Friedrich Nietzsche in the English-speaking world.
Richard Strauss's well-known songs from his Vier Lieder (Op. 27), a wedding gift to his wife, include settings to music of two of Mackay's poems: "Morgen!" and "Heimliche Aufforderung". Other uses of Mackay's poems by Strauss include "Verführung" (Op. 33 No. 1) and "In der Campagna" (Op. 41 No. 2).
The Hustler: The Story of A Nameless Love from Friedrichstrasse by John Henry Mackay
Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: Xlibris (April 3, 2002)
Amazon: The Hustler: The Story of A Nameless Love from Friedrichstrasse
The Ideal Gay Man: The Story of Der Kreis by Hubert Kennedy
Paperback: 229 pages
Publisher: Routledge (November 6, 1999)
Amazon: The Ideal Gay Man: The Story of Der Kreis
Discover the deliciously succulent homosexual world of the early 1900s!
The Ideal Gay Man: The Story of Der Kreis gives you the history of the influential international gay journal Der Kreis, published in Switzerland from 1932--1967. You’ll gain fascinating insight into the journal’s origins, its development, and the reasons for its demise. Entertaining and informative, this book points out how the events of the day relating to the gay movement were reflected in and influenced by Der Kreis.
Der Kreis was the world’s most important journal promoting the legal and social rights of gay men. Literary historians, gay theory scholars, and general readers will be intrigued by the generous selection of articles from the English section of the journal, as well as the English translations from the French and German sections.
The Ideal Gay Man is a fascinating collection of history and entertainment. Some topics you’ll explore are:
the beginning of the publication Der Kreis
why Der Kreis stopped publication
sections on the English writers, French writers, and German writers of Der Kreis
articles on morality and the public’s changing perceptions of homosexuality
man and boy love and the differences between leading and seduction
The Ideal Gay Man studies this amazingly influential gentlemen’s journal and provides you with a flattering and long overdue inclusion into gay studies material. You will explore the homosexual world during a turbulent time of intolerance and discover how the events relating to the gay movement were reflected in and influenced by Der Kreis.
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