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University of Texas at Austin

Compton Mackenzie:

An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Mackenzie, Compton, 1883-1972
Title: Compton Mackenzie Papers
Dates: 1816-1970, undated
Extent: 199 document boxes (83.58 linear feet), 1 oversize folder (osf), 40 galley files (gf)
Abstract: The papers of Scottish writer Compton Mackenzie provide detailed documentation of his entire professional and personal life. Also included are the papers of his parents, actors Edward Compton and Virginia Bateman Compton, and of his first wife, writer Faith Compton Mackenzie, as well as small collections pertaining to his grandmother, actor Sidney Frances Cowell Bateman, and his friend, writer Norman Douglas.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-02620
Language: English, French, Gaelic, German, Greek, Italian
Access: Open for research. Researchers must create an online Research Account and agree to the Materials Use Policy before using archival materials.
Use Policies: Ransom Center collections may contain material with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in the collections without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the Ransom Center and The University of Texas at Austin assume no responsibility.
Restrictions on Use: Authorization for publication is given on behalf of the University of Texas as the owner of the collection and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder which must be obtained by the researcher. For more information please see the Ransom Centers' Open Access and Use Policies.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation Compton Mackenzie Papers (Manuscript Collection MS-02620). Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin.
Acquisition: Purchase (R310, R311, R1610, R2051, R4227, R4591, R5374, R5870, R6491, R6625, R13854, R13986), 1961-1997
Processed by: Joan Sibley and Richard Workman, 2019 Note: This finding aid replicates and replaces information previously available only in a card catalog. Please see the explanatory note at the end of this finding aid for information regarding the arrangement of the manuscripts as well as the abbreviations commonly used in descriptions.

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Scope and Contents

The papers of Compton Mackenzie (1883-1972) provide detailed documentation of the Scottish writer's entire professional and personal life as evidenced through manuscripts for his numerous writings, his extensive correspondence files, and personal and family papers. Included are address books, appointment books, autographs, certificates, clippings, comic strips, contracts, correspondence, diaries, financial records, galley proofs, journals, manuscripts, menus, notebooks, passports, photographs, play scripts, printed material, prompt books, radio scripts, scrapbooks, screenplays, sheet music, and theater programs. Besides Mackenzie's literary career, his papers reflect the Compton family of actors and their activities in the theater; several locales, including Capri, Greece, and Scotland; World War I and British Intelligence service; Scottish history and nationalism; and Mackenzie's personal interests, such as cats, music, and sports.
The bulk of Mackenzie's papers arrived at the Ransom Center between 1961 and 1973, when they were described in a card catalog and arranged into four series: I. Works, 1900-1970, undated (88 boxes); II. Letters, 1904-1959, undated (3 boxes); III. Recipient, 1908-1969, undated (64 boxes); and IV. Miscellaneous, 1816-1962, undated (44 boxes). Descriptions in the following Container List were derived from the card catalog; titles of Mackenzie works and names of his correspondents are listed in the following Index of Works, Index of Letters, and Index of Recipients. The subsequent Index of Miscellaneous chiefly lists third-party works and letters by others.
The Works series includes manuscripts for novels, plays, poems, short stories, biography, histories, autobiography, essays, articles, broadcasts, and reviews. Major titles include Aegean Memories (1932), Carnival (1912), Extraordinary Women (1928), Greek Memories (1932), The Lunatic Republic (1959), The Monarch of the Glen (1941) My Life and Times (1963-1971), Sinister Street (1914), Thin Ice (1956), Vestal Fire (1927), and Whiskey Galore (1947). Many of the manuscripts in the Works series are accompanied by correspondence, most often with the publisher of the item in question; this correspondence was not indexed.
Some of the novels written during and after World War I, when paper was in short supply, were typed on the versos of earlier manuscripts. Thus the first draft of Sylvia Scarlett ended up on the same sheets with Guy and Pauline, and parts of The Vanity Girl were typed on the versos of the manuscripts of Sylvia Scarlett, Poor Relations, and Sylvia and Michael. These manuscripts are arranged as they were left by Mackenzie, and cross references have been added to the corresponding descriptions.
The manuscript for Aegean Memories includes inserted originals and copies of letters and documents that Mackenzie cited or reproduced in the text. A detailed description of these letters and documents, including their exact locations in the manuscript, can be found in Eugene Edge, An Analytical and Descriptive Catalogue of the Sir Compton Mackenzie Manuscript Collection at the University of Texas at Austin: A Dissertation, Austin, TX, 1967, pp. 172-181. Copies of the relevant pages from the dissertation description have been inserted into the beginning of each folder of this manuscript to assist researchers with locating material that is indexed in this guide only by folder number.
The Letters series contains Mackenzie's outgoing letters and the Recipient series comprises his incoming correspondence. Correspondents include writers, stage and screen personalities, politicians, members of the English nobility, family members, friends, and others. Prominent in the Recipient files are many letters from notable fellow writers, including H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, D. H. Lawrence, T. E. Lawrence, Rosamond Lehmann, Sinclair Lewis, Dame Rose Macaulay, Somerset Maugham, Naomi Mitchison, Dorothy Richardson, C. K. Scott-Moncrieff, Edith Sitwell, Evelyn Waugh, Edmund Wilson, and P. G. Wodehouse. Many of the Recipient files also include copies of Mackenzie's replies. A few of these replies are indexed in the Letters series index, but many more are not. There are no files for the year 1928 among the incoming letters from J. B. Pinker & Son, Mackenzie's literary agent. Mackenzie's letters to his first wife, Faith Compton Mackenzie, were arranged (probably by Mackenzie, who outlived his wife) in rough chronological order, with undated letters interfiled in their presumably appropriate positions. This arrangement is not precisely chronological, but has been retained.
The Miscellaneous series includes, in addition to assorted items from Mackenzie's archive, papers created or collected by Mackenzie's parents, actors Edward Compton and Virginia Bateman Compton; his maternal grandmother, actor Sidney Frances Cowell Bateman; his wife, writer Faith Compton Mackenzie; and his friend, writer Norman Douglas. Because the bulk of the Compton Mackenzie Papers was acquired directly from the author in the 1960s before current archival standards and procedures were adopted by the Ransom Center, such third-party works and correspondence were arranged by creator name in a single alphabetical arrangement. The searchable Index of Miscellaneous now makes it easier for researchers to locate related materials because recipient names as well as creator names are present in the index. Throughout the Miscellaneous series, copies of replies are sometimes included with letters; replies were not indexed. Collections of correspondence on specific topics (military career, the Windsor family, etc.) were also not indexed.
The papers of Mackenzie's father, Edward Compton (1854-1918), comprise incoming correspondence primarily concerned with the running of his theatrical troupe, Compton's Comedy Company. Also included is a scrapbook of highlights from his career and a diary that additionally contains an autobiographical sketch. Edward's wife, Virginia Bateman Compton (1853-1940), is represented mainly by incoming correspondence from family members and others involved in the theater. Virginia's mother, Sidney Frances Cowell Bateman (1823-1881), also an actor, kept a record book (see 160.1) which contains autographs and letters from persons prominent in the theater. Searching the Index of Miscellaneous for 160.1 will locate entries detailing the contents of this volume.
Holdings for Mackenzie's wife, Faith Compton Mackenzie (1905-1960), comprise diaries, extensive correspondence, and manuscripts of her writings, both fiction and nonfiction.
The papers of Norman Douglas (1868-1952) consist primarily of correspondence from book dealers and librarians regarding the history of Capri (where both he and Mackenzie made their homes for a period), sought perhaps in preparation for his book, Capri: Materials for a description of the island (1930). The wrapper that originally enclosed the Douglas materials (see 159.3) bears Mackenzie's explanatory note about them, but does not make clear why Douglas left the papers in Mackenzie's care.
Also located in the Miscellaneous series are letters from members of a group called the Order of the Crown of Stuart. These letters are dispersed by creator name throughout the series, but can be located by searching the index for the name of the recipient, Carmen Pedro Murray Carrington.
Substantial additional Compton Mackenzie holdings at the Ransom Center are located in the Art Collection; the Library (approximately 15,000 volumes previously owned by Mackenzie, searchable in the online University of Texas Library Catalog); Personal Effects Collections; Photography Collection; and the Vertical File Collection.

Container List