Agnes Muriel Mackenzie, CBE, lived from 9 April 1891 to 26 February 1955. She was an historian and an author. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Agnes Mackenzie was born in Stornoway on Lewis, the daughter of Murdoch Mackenzie, a doctor, and Agnes Drake. She studied English Literature at the University of Aberdeen before going on to teach at the university. Later, she moved with her sister, Jean Mackenzie, to London where she taught at Birkbeck College, part of the University of London.
She wrote her first novel, Without Conditions in 1923 and went on to write several more. Her first major contribution to the analysis of literature was the thesis she wrote for her Doctor of Literature degree at Aberdeen University in 1924: The Women in Shakespeare's Plays. By the 1930s her focus of attention had shifted to Scottish history. Her Historical survey of Scottish Literature was published in 1934, and between 1946 and 1952 she published the four volumes of Scottish Pageant, an anthology of historical documentary references. Between 1938 and 1941 she wrote her six volume history of Scotland: The Foundations of Scotland to Scotland in Modern Times.
Not as well known today as she ought to be, Agnes Mackenzie was at the forefront of the analysis of the (previously largely overlooked) contribution to Scottish history of the Gaelic side of the country's heritage. She also did much to bring to a wider audience the importance of the Declaration of Arbroath. She was awarded a CBE for her services to Scottish history. She died in 1955, and ten years later the Saltire Society launched a Historical Book Prize in her memory.