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, “and to this she probably owed her life-long interest in the sea”. When she was sixteen, the family moved to Cheltenham where she attended Cheltenham Ladies' College, and from 1896 to 1898 she read History at St Hilda's College, Oxford where she was one of the first students, although at this date women were not admitted to degrees.
She worked as secretary to the Regius Professor of History for several years and also senior civil servants. Broster's first two novels were co-written with a college friend Gertrude Winifred Taylor; Chantemerle: A Romance of the Vendean War (1911) and The Vision Splendid (1913) (about the Tractarian Movement).
During World War I she served as a Red Cross nurse with a voluntary Franco-American hospital, but returned to England with a knee infection in 1916. After the War, she and her friend Gertrude Schlich moved near to Battle in Sussex, where Broster worked full time as a writer. She was in the first batch of women to receive her Batchelor of Arts and Master of Arts in 1920.
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. She produced her best-seller about Scottish history, The Flight of the Heron, in 1925. Broster stated she had consulted eighty reference books before beginning the novel. 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. The title story of “Couching at the Door” involves an artist haunted by a mysterious entity. 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.
Broster was a private individual who avoided publicity; during her lifetime, many of her readers wrongly assumed she was both male and Scottish.
Literary historian Jack Adrian describes Couching at the Door as “a pure masterwork, one of the most satisfying weird collections of the century”. 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.
The Flight of the Heron has been adapted for BBC Radio twice, in 1944 (starring Gordon Jackson as Ewen Cameron) and again in 1959, starring (Bryden Murdoch as Cameron). Murdoch also starred in radio adaptations of the book's sequels, The Gleam in the North and The Dark Mile.
The supernatural tale “The Pestering” 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.