D K Broster c.1924

BROSTER, Dorothy Kathleen   [1877-1950]

By all accounts an exceptionally private person, it probably suited Broster to publish her works under the relative anonymity of ‘D K'. Such was her success in keeping her personal life from public view that when she died many of her readers were surprised to find that she was neither a man nor a Scot. Her heyday as an author was the 1920's and 30's during which period most of her 15 historical novels were published. She chose post-revolutionary France and Jacobite Scotland as the setting for her major works, not too surprising as she had read Modern History at St Hilda's College, Oxford (1896-98). It was following a rain-sodden stay in Scotland in 1923 that she began what was to become her most successful and critically acclaimed work, The Flight of the Heron . Published in 1925, it was the first volume in her Jacobite Trilogy with The Gleam in the North (1927), and The Dark Mile (1929). Reprints of these works have been fairly regular, assisted by television adaptations by Scottish TV (1968) and BBC (1976). In addition to her historical works Broster was also an accomplished writer of supernatural short stories and her work Couching at the Door has been included in many anthologies .

Dorothy Kathleen Broster was born 2 September 1877 at Devon Lodge (now known as Monksferry House), Grassendale Park, Liverpool, the eldest of four children of Thomas Mawdsley Broster, a shipowner, and his wife Emily Kathleen, née Gething. In the 1891 census Dorothy is shown as a ‘boarder' at a school located in Wensted , Grassendale Park, Liverpool, about a mile from what was then the family home at 10 Woolton Road, Garston. She subsequently attended Cheltenham Ladies' College after her parents had moved to the town when she was 16. After leaving Oxford she undertook secretarial work until becoming a full time writer. She died on 7 February 1950 in Bexhill and was cremated at Charing crematorium, Kent. An obituary in The Scotsman described her as "upright and downright impish.....a lovable creature whose delightful novels made her known to thousands".

Devon Lodge (now Monksferry House)
17 North Road, Grassendale Park L19

'Wensted',  22 North Road, Grassendale Park L19

At the time of the 1891 census Broster was shown as a boarder at a school located here.


There is an entry for  D K Broster in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. There is also a useful summary of her  life and work on the Collecting Books and Magazines website.