Downfall:The Destruction of Charles Mackay

Diamond, Paul


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1920 New Zealanders were shocked by the news that the brilliant, well-connected mayor of genteel Whanganui had shot a young gay poet, D’Arcy Cresswell, who he thought was blackmailing him. They were then riveted by the trial that followed.
Mackay was sentenced to hard labour and later left the country, only to be shot by a police sniper during street unrest in Berlin during the rise of the Nazis.
Mackay had married into Whanganui high society, and the story has long been the town’s dark secret. The outcome of years of digging by historian Paul Diamond,

Downfall: The destruction of Charles Mackay shines a clear light on the vengeful impulses behind the blackmail and Mackay’s ruination.
The cast of this tale includes the Prince of Wales, the president of the RSA, Sir Robert Stout, Blanche Baughan . . . even Lady Ottoline Morrell. But it is much more than an extraordinary story of scandal. At its heart, the Mackay affair reveals the perilous existence of homosexual men and how society conspired to control and punish them.
This important new history is a careful examination of an important and little understood moment in our past and is unique for the queer lens through which it views the complex lives and motivations of key figures in late-Edwardian New Zealand and the systems within which they operated.

Format: Paperback
Pages: 328
Imprint: Massey University Press
Publication date: 10/11/2022