Mackanzie was born in Scotland in 1883. The way he got to know and to discover
the Isle of Capri, was a casual one for him too. He was in New York and looked
by chance at some prints of the “Terra delle Sirene” * and was so enchanted,
that in 1913 he decided to move to that island and admire all the local
beauties from close up.
He remained on the island about ten years,
with his wife Faith always accompanying him. Despite this, his married life was
very animated: he got married three times. In 1952 he was appointed Sir
by Queen Elisabeth.
very prolix author, he is remembered for writing about hundred works, two of
which set in Capri: Vestal Fire and Extraordinary
Women. In these last works he managed to tell in a sweet and sharp
tone, all the ways of living of the island population of those years. He died in
Edinburgh in 1972.
arrived Capri in 1913, and at the beginning he stayed in the Hotel Faraglioni.
As soon as he arrived the island he made friends with Gorkji, but his new friend
left the island in April of the same year. Afterwards he rented Villa La
Caterola from William Andrews, and during his stay he was offered first from
Munthe and then from Cerio, villas of their property. In common agreement
with his wife he decided to accept Cerio’s proposal (a ten years rental
at fifty pounds per year), so he moved to Villa La Solitaria (1914), after a
short stay in Il Rosajo, a property of Cerio’s, too. In this period the married
couple underwent a heavy crisis, which they overcame thanks to Munthe’s help,
who convinced them to renounce marriage and to engage a pact of friendship. When
he felt better, the writer decided
to put into practise his idea of building a villa behind the docks of Ventroso
(a place adjacent the valley of Cetrella), so he started working on it. First he
got a little cistern to be excavated, but as soon as the covering was completed,
a huge stone broke off Monte Solaro and fell, destroying everything. He then
decided to buy a small villa in the plain of Cetrella, where he used to hold his
amorous encounters with young boys of the island. In 1918, the arrival in Capri
of a group of lesbians, gave Mackenzie the inspiration to write Extraordinary
1920 the writer started feeling a kind of intolerance for the life on the island.
As a result of his detachment, he drew up a lease in two small islands of the
English Channel. His stays in Capri became rarer and rarer. In 1923, his
precarious financial situation obliged him to sell an island of the English
Channel and he went back to Capri together with Faith. During this visit he
observed with pleasure that the works in Cetrella were going on. In 1924 Faith
abandoned the Solitaria, sold La Cetrella to Cerio and a year later she joined
Campton in England. Still today in the valley one can see, close to the rests of
the house destroyed by the time, the two pines that Mackenzie had wanted to
plant and a marble tablet in memory of the owners of the villa, now plunged into
silence and loneliness.
* Literary “Land of Mermaids”. It comes
from Insula Sirenussae, the ancient
Latin name given to Capri.