Virginia Lilian Emmeline Compton Mackenzie was born in West Kensington, London, England. Compton made her first professional appearances between 1911 and 1913 with The Follies under the leadership of H.G. Pelissier, her future first husband, whom she married as a teenager. She made her mark in the several plays of J.M. Barrie (of Peter Pan fame) introducing him to London audiences, notably in the title role of Mary Rose in 1920. In 1926, she published reminiscences entitled Rosemary: Some remembrances.