Edward Montague Compton Mackenzie was born in West Hartlepool, County Durham, England, into a theatrical family of Mackenzies, 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, and mother, Virginia Bateman, were actors and theatre company managers; his sister, Fay Compton, starred in many of J. M. Barrie's plays, including Peter Pan. He was educated at St Paul's School, London, and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he graduated with a degree in modern history.
Between 1913 and 1920 he lived with his wife, Faith, on Capri at Villa Solitaria, 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 a friend of Axel Munthe, who built Villa San Michele, and Edwin Cerio, who later became mayor of Capri.
Compton Mackenzie; Faith Nona (née Stone), Lady Mackenzie, by Central Press, bromide press print, November 1955, 10 in. x 8 in. (254 mm x 204 mm) image size, Transferred from Evening Standard Library, 1983, Photographs Collection, NPG x184032
Sir Compton Mackenzie was a prolific writer of fiction, biography, histories and memoir, as well as a cultural commentator, raconteur and lifelong Scottish nationalist. On November 30, 1905, he married actress Faith Nora Stone. Between 1913 and 1920 they lived on Capri at Villa Solitaria. Faith had an affair with the Italian pianist Renata Borgatti, who was connected to Romaine Brooks. Extraordinary Women (1928) is a roman à clef about a group of lesbians arriving on the island of Sirene, a fictional version of Capri.
Sir (Edward Montague Anthony) Compton Mackenzie, after Unknown artist, cigarette card, 1937, 3 1/8 in. x 2 1/2 in. (79 mm x 62 mm) paper size, Given by Terence Pepper, 2012, Reference Collection, NPG D42407
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 1931-34, defeating Oswald Mosley, who later led the British Union of Fascists, in his bid for the job.
From 1920-23, Mackenzie was the Tenant of Herm and Jethou. He built a house on Barra in the 1930s. On Barra he gained inspiration and found creative solitude, and befriended a great number of people that he described as "the aristocrats of democracy".
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. Lastly, he married his dead wife's sister, Lillian MacSween in 1965.
Faith Nona Stone (b. 26 Feb 1878, Eton, England; d. 1960) was the daughter of Rev. Edward Daniel Stone, author, translator and educator, & Elizabeth Theresa "Lily" Vidal.
Edward Daniel Stone (1832-1916), son of Joseph Stone, town clerk of Dorchester, Dorset. Educated at Eton College, and King's College, Cambridge; BA 1856, MA 1859. Fellow of King's, 1855-62. Ordained deacon, 1860. Assistant master at Eton, 1857-84. He kept a preparatory school at Stonehouse, Broadstairs, Kent, 1884-95. Retired to Abingdon, Berkshire, thence to his son's house at Radley College. Greek and Latin scholar. The field of rivalry: an heroic poem, in four books, written midst the nineteenth century; by E.D.S. London: Longmans, Green, & Co.; Cambridge: W. Metcalfe & Sons. 1872. viii, 230 pp.
Mackenzie was a keen supporter of West Bromwich Albion Football Club. Although from the north east of England, he "was influenced in the choice of Albion as 'my' team by the fact that their ground was romantically called The Hawthorns and that they were nicknamed the Throstles".
He converted to Roman Catholicism in 1914. He died on 30 November 1972, aged 89, in Edinburgh and was interred at Eolaigearraidh, Barra.
After his retirement Mackenzie sold the entire copyright in 20 of his books for a lump sum of £10,000 arguing that this was a capital receipt and not the proceeds of the business. The Court of Appeal held that this was assessable income as part of the proceeds of his business: Mackenzie v Arnold (1952) 33 TC 363.
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=e
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=e
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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