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Denis Mackail (1892-1971) was the son of JW Mackail, a civil servant and distinguished classical scholar, and of Margaret, the daughter of Sir Edward Burne-Jones; his sister was the future novelist Angela Thirkell. Educated at St Paul’s and Oxford, he worked as a stage designer and then in the Board of Trade, and the Print Room of the British Museum. In 1917 he married Diana Granet; they lived at 23 Walpole Street, Chelsea, the setting for Greenery Street (1925). The first of his twenty-five novels appeared in 1920 and by 1922 he could give up his office job and support his family (two daughters were born in 1919 and 1922) by writing nearly a book a year, thus becoming ‘the official chronicler of the domestic preoccupations of the upper middle-class in London’ (The Times). The Mackails’ circle of friends included AA Milne, JM Barrie and PG Wodehouse. Diana Mackail died in 1949 aged only 53; Denis remained in Chelsea, but stopped writing.
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