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. The Yellow Poppy (1920) about the adventures of an aristocratic couple during the French Revolution, was later adapted by Broster and W. Edward Stirling for the London stage in 1922.[3] 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.[4] 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.

Broster also wrote several short horror stories, collected in "A Fire of Driftwood" and Couching at the Door.[5] The title story of "Couching at the Door" involves an artist haunted by a mysterious entity.[6] Other supernatural tales include "Clairvoyance", (1932) about a psychic girl, "Juggernaut" (1935) about a haunted chair, and "The Pestering", (1932) focusing on a couple tormented by supernatural entity.[6]

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

Critical reception[edit]

Literary historian Jack Adrian describes Couching at the Door as "a pure masterwork, one of the most satisfying weird collections of the century".[6] 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.[4]

Media adaptations[edit]

The Flight of the Heron has been adapted for BBC Radio twice, in 1944 (starring Gordon Jackson as Ewen Cameron)[7] and again in 1959, starring (Bryden Murdoch as Cameron).[8] Murdoch also starred in radio adaptations of the book's sequels, The Gleam in the North[9] and The Dark Mile.[10]

The supernatural tale "The Pestering"[11] was also adapted for radio.

The Flight of the Heron has also been made into a TV serial twice: by Scottish Television in eight episodes in 1968, and by the BBC in 1976.



  • 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 0-521-66813-1, (p. 94)
  3. ^ J. P. Wearing, The London Stage, 1920–1929: a calendar of plays and players. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1984. ISBN 0-8108-1715-2 (p. 148)
  4. ^ a b Diana Wallace, The Woman's Historical Novel: British women writers, 1900–2000. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. ISBN 1-4039-0322-0 (p. 7, 29)
  5. ^ Mike Ashley , Who's Who in Horror and Fantasy Fiction. Elm Tree Books, 1977. ISBN 0-241-89528-6. (p.44)
  6. ^ a b c 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 1-55862-206-3
  7. ^ 'THE FLIGHT OF THE HERON ' BBC Home Service Basic, 17 April 1944 19:15 Radio Times archive. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  8. ^ CHILDREN'S HOUR: The Flight of the Heron. BBC Home Service Basic, 25 November 1959 17:00 Radio Times archive. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  9. ^ CHILDREN'S HOUR: The Gleam In The North BBC Home Service Basic, 28 August 1960 17:00. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  10. ^ THE DARK MILE BBC Home Service Basic, 21 July 1961 17:15
  11. ^ THE PESTERING BBC Home Service Basic, 12 December 1945. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 16.15

External links[edit]