Compton Mackenzie – A County Durham Lad

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Edward Montague Compton Mackenzie was born on 17th January 1883 in West Hartlepool, County Durham, England. Often described as a prolific writer of fiction, Mackenzie was probably best known for two of his works; Whisky Galore & one of his highland novels, The Monarch of the Glen.

Whisky Galore, written in 1947, was set amongst the Hebridean Islands off the west coast of Scotland. The fictional cargo vessel, SS Cabinet Minister ran aground and the locals, keen to take advantage of the situation, ‘liberated’ the cargo 50,000 cases of fine whisky, much to the annoyance of the Revenue Men. A feature length film of the novel was made two years later by the Ealing Studios and Mackenzie even played a cameo role as Captain Buncher.

The Monarch of the Glen, written in 1941, inspired the television series “Monarch of the Glen” starring well known actors such as Richard Briers, Susan Hampshire and latterly Tom Baker. It centred around the fictional highland estate of Glenbogle and the daily trials and tribulations of the MacDonald family, running the estate through good times and bad.

Mackenzie was passionate about Scottish culture and spent much time tracing his ancestors back to the Highlands, a place he truly loved. In the 1930s he built a house on the Island of Barra, a wild and wind-swept isle that provided the the perfect solitude he needed to write in such a prolific manner. Loved by the locals, who he loved also, Mackenzie’s body was put to rest on Barra following his death 30 November 1972 of natural causes in Edinburgh.

A County Durham lad, who loved the Highlands & Islands who wrote. We’ve definitely got something in common.

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