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Katherine Cecil Thurston (18 April 1875 – 5 September 1911) was an Irish novelist.
Born Katherine Cecil Madden in Cork, Ireland, the only daughter of banker Paul J. Madden (who was Mayor of Cork 1885-1886, and a friend of Charles Stuart Parnell) and Catherine Madden (born Barry), she was privately educated. By the end of the 19th century she was contributing short stories to various British and American publications, such as Pall Mall Magazine, Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Harper's Magazine, Windsor Magazine and others.
In 1901, she married the writer Ernest Temple Thurston (1879-1933). They separated in 1907 and were divorced in 1910 on grounds of his adultery and desertion. The suit went undefended. Thurston "complained that she was making more money by her books than he was, that her personality dominated his, and had said that he wanted to leave her."
Katherine Thurston's novels achieved success in both Britain and the United States. Her best-known work was a political thriller entitled John Chilcote, M.P. (as The Masquerader in the United States), published in 1904 and on the New York Times bestseller list for two years, ranking as third best-selling book for 1904 and seventh best in 1905. Her next book, The Gambler, came out in 1905 and it too made the US best-selling lists for that year. This was the first time the New York Times had recorded any author, female or male, as having two top-ten books in a single year. In 1910, she was back on the same list at No. 4 with her novel Max, the story of a young Russian princess, who flees disguised as a boy to the Montmartre Quarter of Paris, on the night before her arranged marriage.
John Chilcote, M.P. was adapted for the stage by John Hunter Booth and opened on Broadway in 1917. It was filmed four times, the first silent film by American Pathé in 1912 under the title The Compact and starring Crane Wilbur; the second a 1920 Russian/French co-production entitled Chlen parlamenta. Two more films were made using the American book title The Masquerader, in 1922 and then by the Samuel Goldwyn Company in 1933 as a "talkie" starring Ronald Colman.
An epileptic, Thurston's blossoming career was cut short at the age of 36 when she was found dead in her hotel room in Cork. The official enquiry on 6 September 1911 gave the cause of death as asphyxia as result of a seizure. She had been due to remarry later that month to Dr. A. T. Bulkeley Gavin. She was buried in St. Joseph's Cemetery, Cork. The story of her final years and her relationship with Bulkeley Gavin is the subject of a published thesis, researched and written by C. M. Copeland whilst studying at the Napier University, Edinburgh.
- The Circle (1903).
- John Chilcote M.P. (US title: The Masquerader, 1904)
- The Gambler (1905).
- The Mystics (1907).
- The Fly on the Wheel (1908).
- Max (1910).
- Report (8 April 1910), "Divorce Case", Irish Times, p. 4
- Report (7 September 1911), "Death of Writer", Irish Times, p. 7
- Copeland, Caroline (2007). The Sensational Katherine Cecil Thurston: An Investigation into the Life and Publishing History of a 'New Woman' Author (PDF). ©Caroline Copeland 2007. pp. various. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
- "Review: The Fly on the Wheel by Katherine C. Thurston". The Athenaeum (4196): 380. March 28, 1908.
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