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Compton Mackenzie

Compton Mackenzie (1883-1972) was a writer with a huge output, over ninety books. He wrote too much, but novels like Sinister Street, satires like Vestal Fire and Extraordinary Women and entertainments like Whisky Galore deserve to survive.

He was born in West Hartlepool, educated at St Paul's School and Magdalen College, Oxford (his upbringing is vividly described in Sinister Street). During the First World War he became Director of the Aegean Intelligence Service.

He had wide interests: he co-founded The Gramophone magazine in 1923: he was President of the Siamese Cat Club: he was a Scottish nationalist. He also like islands, living on Capri and Barra, and was lampooned for this by D. H. Lawrence, appearing as Mr Cathcart in the short story 'The Man Who Loved Islands'. He thought of suing but, in the end, ticked D. H. Lawrence off for suggesting cowslips could grow in a granite landscape; they prefer lime.