Osgood Mackenzie: an interesting copy of his book A Hundred Years in the Highlands.

I have an interesting copy of Osgood Mackenzie's memoir, A Hundred Years in the Highlands. This is a well-known autobiography, which gave me useful information for my book The Immeasurable Wilds, not least regarding the making of roads in the Poolewe district, and the journeys of the postmen before these roads were made.

My copy is an early (1924), but not a first edition; the interest lies in the extras that came with the book.

The book came with three postcards of Beauly Priory, and a letter from Osgood. I won't pretend that the letter is of huge significance, but to see a specimen of the great man's handwriting, with the energy one might expect of the man visible. The notepaper is headed "Tournaig, Poolewe, N.B.", which had been his mother's house just north of Poolewe.

Clearly, Osgood was a good correspondent: he replied to the request he had received from someone with the name Kythe (or Cythe) for information regarding the family tree the very next day: 

"16th November, 1921.

Dear Madam,

I received your letter last night, and am glad my Book gave you pleasure! There is no doubt you get your name from my father's first wife, Kythe Smith Wright. She was the daughter of a Nottingham Banker, a Mr Smith Wright, and she was called Kythe after her Godmother an old Mrs Vaughan who was Welsh, & who left her a lot of money, etc.! I have no recollection of having heard the name Walker or Hoggan (?) in connection with our family; but I was not born for some years after my father's first wife was dead. Kythe Lady Mackenzie of Gairloch had no brothers, but had two sisters, Mrs Egerton Leigh(?), and Mrs Walter Russell! I fear this is all I can tell you about the name Kythe! There are a number of Kythes of the present generation, and all called (like you) after the original Kythe Smith Wright. 

If I could help you any further in this matter, I would gladly do so, and in the meantime, I remain Yours, very truly,

Osgood H. Mackenzie."

The book has a copy of a family tree on the front free endpaper, and this also appears on the back of one of the postcards:

An online family tree suggests the wife's name was actually Cythe, but it appears that both the enquirer, and Osgood agree that the name is Kythe. I wonder how many there are now.

If the letter reveals little of consequence for posterity, it at least shows Osgood to be an efficient and generous correspondent. His fame now, of course, rests with the remarkable garden that is found at Inverewe, which was his creation.