D. K. Broster

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Dorothy Kathleen Broster (2 September 1877 – 7 February 1950), usually known as D.K. Broster, was a British novelist and short-story writer, born in Garston, Liverpool at Devon Lodge (now known as Monksferry House), which lies in Grassendale Park on the banks of the River Mersey.[1] Educated at Cheltenham Ladies' College and St Hilda's College, Oxford [2] (where she was one of the first students), she served as a Red Cross nurse during World War I with a voluntary Franco-American hospital. Broster's first two novels were co-written with Gertrude Winifred Taylor; Chantemerle: A Romance of the Vendean War and The Vision Splendid (about the Tractarian Movement).[2]

Following the war she returned to Oxford where she worked as a secretary to the Regius Professor of History and senior civil servants. She produced her best-seller about Scottish history, The Flight of the Heron, in 1925.[2] Broster stated she had consulted eighty reference books before beginning the novel.[3] Broster followed it up with two successful sequels, The Gleam in the North and The Dark Mile. She wrote several other historical novels, successful and much reprinted in their day, although this Jacobite Trilogy, featuring the dashing hero Ewen Cameron, remain the best known. The Flight of the Heron has been made into a TV serial twice: by Scottish Television in eight episodes in 1968, and by the BBC in 1976.

The poet Patricia Beer was an admirer of Broster's novels, stating she had been fascinated by The Flight of the Heron when she read it aged thirteen.[3]

Broster also wrote several short horror stories, collected in "A Fire of Driftwood" and Couching at the Door.[4] The title story of "Couching at the Door" involves an artist haunted by a mysterious entity. Other supernatural tales include "Clairvoyance", about a psychic girl, (1932), and "Juggernaut" (1935) about a haunted chair.[5] Jack Adrian describes Couching at the Door as "a pure masterwork, one of the most satisfying weird collections of the century".[5]

Broster was a private individual who avoided publicity; during her lifetime, many of her readers wrongly assumed she was both male and Scottish.[2]



  • Chantemerle: A Romance of the Vendean War (1911) (with G. W. Taylor)
  • The Vision Splendid (1913) (with G. W. Taylor)
  • Sir Isumbras at the Ford (1918)
  • The Yellow Poppy (1920)
  • The Wounded Name (1922)
  • "Mr Rowl" (1924)
  • The Jacobite Trilogy
    • The Flight of the Heron (1925)
    • The Gleam in the North (1927)
    • The Dark Mile (1929)
  • Ships in the Bay! (1931)
  • Almond, Wild Almond (1933)
  • World under Snow (1935) (with G. Forester)
  • Child Royal (1937)
  • The Sea without a Haven (1941)
  • The Captain's Lady (1947)


  • A Fire of Driftwood (1932)
  • Couching at the Door: Strange and Macabre Tales (1942)


  • The Short Voyage (1951)


  • The Happy Warrior: A. A. C. de Brunet, Count de Neuilly (1926)


  1. ^ 1881 England Census
  2. ^ a b c d Lorna Sage, The Cambridge Guide to Women's Writing in English Cambridge University Press, 1999 ISBN 0521668131, (p. 94)
  3. ^ a b Diana Wallace, The Woman's Historical Novel : British women writers, 1900-2000. Houndmills : Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. ISBN 1403903220 (p. 7, 29)
  4. ^ Mike Ashley , Who's Who in Horror and Fantasy Fiction. Elm Tree Books, 1977. ISBN 0-241-89528-6. (p.44)
  5. ^ a b Jack Adrian, "Broster, D(orothy) K(athleen)", in David Pringle, ed., St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers. London: St. James Press, 1998. (pp. 95-97) ISBN 1558622063