Wife Faith Stone

Queer Places:
University of Oxford, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3PA
St Paul's School, Lonsdale Rd, Barnes, London SW13 9JT, Regno Unito
The Albany, Albany Court Yard, Mayfair, London W1J, Regno Unito
Villa Solitaria, Via del Pizzolungo, 80076 Capri NA
Eolaigearraidh, Cille Bharra, Eoligarry, Isle of Barra HS9 5YE, Regno Unito

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c4/Compton_Mackenzie.jpgSir Compton Mackenzie, OBE (born Edward Montague Compton Mackenzie, 17 January 1883 – 30 November 1972) was an English-born Scottish writer of fiction, biography, histories and a memoir, as well as a cultural commentator, raconteur and lifelong Scottish nationalist. He was one of the co-founders in 1928 of the Scottish National Party along with Hugh MacDiarmid, RB Cunninghame Graham and John MacCormick. He was knighted in 1952.

The 1920s were boom years for lesbian literature, seeing the publication of a large range of texts from virulently anti-lesbian works, such as Compton MacKenzie's Extraordinary Women (1928), through relatively traditional celebrations of romantic friendship, such as Elizabeth Bowen's The Hotel (1927), to radical modernist texts with encoded lesbian themes, such as Virginia Woolf's Orlando (1928).

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. He became friends with the writer Somerset Maugham, a frequent visitor to the island. Faith had an affair with the Italian pianist Renata Borgatti,[22] who was connected to Romaine Brooks. Although – and because – his wife was with him, Mackenzie bought himself a cottage in which to meet his boyfriends or to lend to friends for the same purpose.

Compton Mackenzie's observations on the local life of the Italian islanders and foreign residents led to at least two novels, Vestal Fire (1927) (dedicated to John Ellingham Brooks) and Extraordinary Women (1928) (dedicated to Normam Douglas).

Pensione Faraglioni, Capri

The central theme of Vestal Fire was the infatuation of two American lesbians (real life Kate Wolcott Perry and Saidee Wolcott Perry) for a French pederast and drug-addict (real life Jacques d'Adelswärd-Fersen) – not at all an easy subject to present explicitly in 1926. Furthermore three other important characters – Vernon Andrews (‘Nigel Dawson’), Norman Douglas (‘Duncan Maxwell’) and Godfrey Thornton (‘Anthony Burlingham’) – were also homosexual. In portraying events which had occurred before his own arrival in 1913 he relied heavily on John Ellingham Brooks, who had been a shrewd observer of the Capri scene since 1895. Mackenzie dedicated Vestal Fire to Brooks in ‘memory of the hours you have spent listening to other stories of mine in the making, to many a long talk under the moon and many a long walk in the sun, to the bottles of wine and the glasses of vermouth we have drunk together, to the music and the scandal we have enjoyed, but perhaps most of all to the laughs we have had, of which I hope you will hear a faint echo as you turn over the pages of this book’.

Extraordinary Women, a roman à clef about a group of lesbians arriving on the island of Sirene, a fictional version of Capri,[23][24] 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.[25] He was a friend of Axel Munthe, who built Villa San Michele, and Edwin Cerio, who later became mayor of Capri.[26] In Capri Mackenzie had an affair with Luigi Ruggiero, brother of garden designer Mimì Ruggiero, who did the gardens at La Solitaria.

Mackenzie was married three times. On 30 November 1905, he married Faith Stone in St Saviour's, Pimlico: they remained married for more than 50 years, until her death.[28] In 1962, he married Christina MacSween, who died the following year. Lastly, he married his dead wife's sister, Lilian MacSween in 1965.[29]

Filmed in the summer and fall of 1935, Sylvia Scarlett, by a novel of Compton Mackenzie, was the story of a girl (Katharine Hepburn) disguised as a boy who teams up with a con man (Cary Grant) and falls in love for an artist. It was Hepburn's idea. She brought the story to George Cukor; he liked its naughty challenge to traditional male-female relationships. For screenwriter, they engaged John Collier, a British novelist recently brought to Hollywood. It was a sympatico collaboration, despite the fact that Collier was straight. "He was fascinated, just fascinated, by the queer world," said Don Bachardy, who, with his lover Christopher Isherwood, often hosted Collier at their Santa Monica home. "He wasn't the least bit gay, but he'd pump Chris for information about parties or dates he'd gone on."

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".[30]

He was also a keen fan of the game of snooker, and gave an account of the origin of the game's name in ‘The Billiard Player’ magazine of 1939, describing how young lieutenant Neville Chamberlain (not the former British Prime Minister) was experimenting on the officers’ mess table with the existing game of ‘Black Pool’ featuring 15 red balls and a black.[31][32] He presented the World Championship trophy to Joe Davis at the 1939 Championships.

He converted to Roman Catholicism in 1914. He died on 30 November 1972, aged 89, in Edinburgh and was interred at Eoligarry on the Isle of Barra.

Identities of characters and places described in Compton Mackenzie’s ‘Vestal Fire’ and ‘Extraordinary Women’

‘Vestal Fire’

Real Name Pseudonym
Edith Page Andrews Elsie Neave
William Page Andrews Joseph Rutger Neave
Alice Tweed Andrews Mrs Dawson
Vernon Andrews Nigel Dawson
The Misses Baker Rachel and Hannah Bilton
Edna Blake Marian de Feltre
Rev. Francis Burra Rev. Cyril Alcott
The Misses Calvert The Misses Cooper
Edwin Cerio Enrico Jones
Giorgio Cerio Alberto Jones
Nino Cesarini Carlo di Fiore
Gilbert Clavel Martel, the Belgian hunchback
Christina Fortunata
Charles Caryl Coleman Christopher Goldfinch
Dr Pasquale de Gennaro Dr Squillace
Marquis de Julien Marquis de la Tour des Bois
Don Giuseppe de Nardis Don Pruno
Olga de Tschélischeff Anastasia Sarbécoff
Doris, niece of Emilie Fraser Phyllis Allerton
Norman Douglas Duncan Maxwell
Mrs Edwardes Adelaide Edwardes
Costanzo Federico Agostino
Baron Jacques (Jack) d’Adelswärd-Fersen Count Robert (Bob) Marsac-Lagerström
Horace Fisher Francis Cartwright
Emelie Fraser Mrs Hector Macdonnell
Giovanni Galatà Peter Amrbogio
Gwendolen Galatà Maud Ambrogio
Ferdinando Gamboni Maestro Perella
Rev. Henry Gepp Rev. William Wills
Mrs Ginsberg Mrs Kafka
Alexander (Sandie) Grahame Archibald (Archie) Macadam
Sophie Grahame Effie Macadam
Alfredo Green Arturo Westall
Morgan Heiskell Harry Menteith
Mrs Hindle Mrs Rosebotham
Thomas Spencer Jerome John Scudamore
Miss Kennedy Beatrice Mewburn
Isabel Kennedy Dorothy Daynton
Pietro Lamberti Cataldo
Lady Mackinder Mrs Onslow
Don Giuseppe Morgano Don Luigi Zampone
Donna Lucia Morgano Donna Maria Zampone
Mariano Morgano Ferdinando Zampone
Rose O'Neill Sheila Macleod
Ouloen Ibsen
Col. Bryan Palmes Major Natt
Pretore Pestalozza Numa Fogolare
Mimì Ruggiero Gigi Gasparri
Henrietta (Yetta) S. Rupp Nita
San Costanzo San Mercurio
Sant'Antonio da Padova San Bonzo
Federico Serena Don Cesare Rocco
Margarete Sinibaldi Madame Minieri
Mrs Spottiswood Mrs Gibbs
Jan Styka Zygmunt Konczynski
Godfrey Henry Thornton Anthony Burlingham
Bertha Trower Carrie Bookman
Harold Trower Herbert Bookham
Anita Vedder Angela Pears
Elihu Vedder Simon Pears
Maestro Vito Maestro Supino
Mrs Watts Mrs Arkwright-Hughes
Annie Webb Mrs Pape
Kathryn (Kate) Wolcott Perry Virginia Pepworth-Norton
Saidee Wolcott Perry Maimie Pepworth-Norton
William Woodsworth Henry Mewburn
Count and Countess Zukov Prince and Princess Marlinsky

‘Extraordinary Women’

Real Name Pseudonym
Renata Borgatti Cléo Gazay
Romaine Brooks Olimpia Leigh
Olga de Tschélischeff Anastasia Sarbécoff
Mimì Franchetti Rosalba Donsante
Luigi Gargiulo Carmine Bruno
Francesca (Checca) Lloyd Aurora (Rory) Freemantle
‘Missi’, governess of Baby Soldatenkov Miss Chimbley
Lica Riola Olga Linati
Principessa Helène Soldatenkov (Gortchakov) Countess Hermina de Randan
Helène (Baby) Soldatenkov Lulu de Randan
  Principessa Flavia (Bébé) Buonagrazia
  Hjalmar (Daffodil) Krog
  Zoe Mitchell
  Contessa Giulia Monforte
  Mrs Royle
  Janet Royle
  Baronessa Drenka Vidakovich
  Captain Wheeler

My published books:

See my published books