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John Henry MacKay
(February 6, 1864 - May 16, 1933) Scotland - Germany

John Henry MacKay

Poet, novelist, and activist


Born in Scotland as the son of a marine insurance broker and a mother from a well-to-do German background, MacKay was taken to Germany by his mother upon his father's premature death and brought up there, with German as his first language.

He initially made his name as a lyric poet and as a writer of naturalist novellas. His mother's death brought on an intense depression that he sought to alleviate by dedicating himself to the project of gaining recognition for man-boy love.

MacKay himself apparently had a preference for boys between the ages of fourteen and seventeen. He began a campaign under the name of "Sagitta" (arrow), intent upon publishing a series of volumes in diferent literary forms, all extolling the virtues of same-sex love. Charges were brought against his publisher when the first book appeared and, in 1909, after a nineteen months trial, they were declared obscene.

Although he loved teenaged males, he did not share the belief of some of his contemporaries that male-male loe was superior to heterosexual love. Arguing from his individualist philosophy, MacKay believed that any love is right and true if it does not infringe on another's freedom.

MacKay continued to write most explicitly homosexual works under his pseudonym, and his work was banned by the Nazis. By the time of his death MacKay's identity as Sagitta was well known. He gave instructions that after his death his writings should all appear under his actual name rather than his pseudonym.


Source: excerpts from: Gabriele Griffin, Who's Who in Lesbian and Gay and Writing, Routledge, London, 2002

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