Collection of Papers relating to Sir Compton Mackenzie (1883-1972)

Scope and Content

The papers include: typescript article on the death of R. E. Muirhead, Sir Compton Mackenzie salutes the memory of a great patriot; an Appreciation of R. E. Muirhead; letter to R. E. Muirhead, 1928; letter to Tom Spence, 1964; letter to L. S. Benjamin, 1925; miscellaneous letters, 1929-1945; letter of Mackenzie to Mr. Maclellan, mentioning C. M. Grieve, 1952; and letters to Macdonald, 1934.

Administrative / Biographical History

Edward Montagu Compton Mackenzie was born on 17 January 1883 in West Hartlepool, Durham. He studied at Magdalen College, Oxford, and graduated with a degree in Modern History. He then turned towards legal training for a short while before starting to write. His first works were Poems and the play The gentleman in grey (1907), followed by The passionate elopement (1911) and Carnival (1912). His Sinister street (1913-1914) is said to have influenced the early work of F. Scott Fitzgerald. During the First World War, Mackenzie was a Lieutenant then a Captain in the Royal Marines, 1915-1916, and served with the Royal Navy in the Dardanelles Expedition, 1915. he also worked for military intelligence in Greece. These wartime experiences were retold in Gallipoli memories (1929), Athenian memories (1931) and Greek memories (1932). A period on Capri after the war was inspiration for Vestal fire (1927) and Extraordinary women (1928). Mackenzie was also an enthusiastic Scottish nationalist and lived in Scotland from 1928, settling on Barra in the Hebrides. He helped found the Scottish National Party and was Rector of Glasgow University, 1931-1934. Mackenzie was literary critic with the Daily Mail, 1931-1935, and he helped found, and was editor of, Gramophone magazine, 1923-1962. His most well-known works were The monarch of the glen (1941), Whisky galore (1947), and Rockets galore (1957). He received an OBE in 1919 and was knighted in 1952. Sir Compton Mackenzie died in Edinburgh on 30 November 1972.


Some material in body of material relating to C. M. Grieve and H. B. Cruickshank, particularly at Gen. 1966/63-66 (letters to Cruickshank towards the end of his life), and Gen. 889/53-61 (Grieve).

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

Great Patriot article, Muirhead and Grieve letters, acquired 1967 or 1969, Accession no. E67.9. Bramly, Adams, Martin letters, purchased December 1968, Accession no. E68.43. Letter to Maclellan, purchased May 1972, Accession no. E72.18. Letter to Cruickshank, purchased December 1974, Accession no. E74.40. Letter to Benjamin, purchased January 1977, Accession no. E77.1. Letters to Macdonald, purchased October 1989, Accession no. E89.70.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Who's who 1968-1969. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1968. (2) Keay, John. and Keay, Julia (eds.). Collins encyclopaedia of Scotland. London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1994.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The local Indexes show other references to Mackenzie related material (check the Indexes for more details): letter about Mackenzie from C. M. Grieve to H. B. Cruickshank, 1945, at Gen. 886, f.96; and, mention of Mackenzie in the letters of John Buchan, 1916, at Gen. 1728/B/245, 246. In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes: correspondence and literary papers, Stanford University Library, Department of Special Collections; correspondence and essays, 1912-1971, Indiana University, Lilly Library; MSS and correspondence, University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center Library, NRA 19861 Univ of Texas papers; MS of Gallipoli memoirs and miscellaneous letters, National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division, Ref. MSS 10791-95, and letters to John Davenport, 1940-1962, Ref. Acc 7007, and letters (18) to H Aubry Gentry, 1924-1963, Ref. Accs 8102, 8199, 8302, and letters (10) to Brian Hill, circa 1945-1970; correspondence with Edward, Duke of Windsor, Glasgow University Library, Special Collections Department, Ref. MS Gen; literary MSS, London University Library, Ref. SL 63 SL V 64 SL V 65 SL V 66 SL V 67 SL V 68 NRA 19298 London Univ L; MS of Sinister Street, The King's School, Canterbury, NRA 15260 Walpole; letters to Sir E.W. Gosse, 1914-1924, Leeds University, Brotherton Library, Ref. Library Publications no 3, NRA 9840 Gosse; correspondence with Sir B. H. Liddell Hart, 1932-1969, King's College London, Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, Ref. KCLMA Liddell Hart B H NRA 19291 Liddell Hart; letters (16) to Royal Society of Literature, 1945-1967, Royal Society of Literature; correspondence with Society of Authors, 1921-1955, British Library, Manuscript Collections, Ref. Add MSS 63286 A, B; correspondence with Francis Brett Young, Birmingham University Information Services, Special Collections Department, Ref. FBY NRA 13482 Young, and notebook as a student at Magdalen College, Oxford, Ref. MSS 5/iv/16 NRA 32504 BUL misc.