Kenneth Mackenzie was educated at Guildford Grammar School, and studied briefly at Muresk Agricultural College and the University of Western Australia. He left Perth in December 1933 for Melbourne and then Sydney, on the advice of Norman Lindsay. In 1934, he married art teacher Kathleen Bartlett and they had two children. Mackenzie worked as a journalist with Smith's Weekly and ABC Weekly, before being drafted into the army in 1942. He served as a corporal in Cowra,New south Wales. overseeing Italian captives held for the duration of World War 11.