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February 22, 2022

Compton Mackenzie’s Whisky Galore Display in the Library

This year, we were delighted to receive a donation to the Kayton Library of a first edition of Compton Mackenzie’s most famous novel, Whisky Galore. The donation was made by the Old Pauline Club at the recent Feast Service reception, as part of the traditional book donation to the school made at this annual celebration. Published in 1947, the story is set in World War II and tells of a tiny Scottish island which runs out of whisky. The locals are delighted when a freighter containing 50,000 cases of whisky runs aground on the beach. English officials are sent in to try to recover the whisky and the locals stage a rebellion. It was made into a delightful film in 1949, which will be familiar to many who have never read the book.

Edward Montague Compton-Mackenzie joined St Paul’s in 1894 and left from the History stream in 1900. He was a founder member of the Scottish National Party, a prolific author and a successful spy who wrote a book about his experiences which had to be withdrawn after he was charged under the Official Secrets Act. We do have a number of Compton Mackenzie books but somehow this title was missing. It is a lovely copy in itself, but it also helps to complete our collection.

In a first, this year the Old Pauline Club are also helping to conserve one of our most heavily used rare books, Thomas Clarkson’s The History Of The Rise, Progress And Accomplishment Of The Abolition Of The African Slave-Trade By The British Parliament Volume II published 1808. Volume II contains the famous diagrams of the Brookes slave ship which were used in the campaign to abolish the slave trade.

Every year this book is taken into lessons in which pupils are learning about the slave trade. It brings the past into the present in a really powerful way. The damage is now so severe that were it not to be conserved and protected for the future this would be the last year where it can be used in this way.

We are very grateful to the Old Pauline Club for their generosity.

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