- Name : Compton Mackenzie
- Born : 1883
- Died : 1972
- Category : Writers
- Finest Moment : Publication of Whisky Galore in 1947
Born, slightly embarrassingly, in West Hartlepool, Compton was the eldest son of the writers Edward Compton and Virginia Bateman. He resumed the family name of Mackenzie to emphasise his Scottish heritage.
He graduated with a degree in Modern History at Oxford (1904), studied for the law, but soon found this dull work and began writing. His successful novel Sinister Street, published in 1918, influenced F Scott Fitzgerald amongst others.
Mackenzie served with the Royal Navy in World War I, seeing service in the Dardanelles. Three books were to come out of this experience, including Gallipoli Memories (1929). His naval experience may well have influenced his decision, in 1928, to settle on the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides. There he became involved in politics, joining the Scottish National Party. He was the literary critic for the Daily Mail (1931-5), edited journals, and wrote and broadcast prolifically.
In 1947 came his most popular and best known work, Whisky Galore. This is based on the true story of the foundering of the ship the SS Constitution, which was carrying a cargo of whisky. The hilarious tales of the natives industriously 'tidying up' the beaches of littering crates and bottles of the 'cratur', with the subsequent antics of the authorities who tried to recover the stashed booty, are now down in folklore. No doubt hidden caches of the golden liquid remain still, buried under sand dunes or concealed under piles of cowshed manure.
He wrote a ten-volume autobiography, was made an OBE in 1919 and knighted in 1952.