Dorothy Kathleen Broster (2 September 1877 7 February 1950) was a popular British novelist and short-story writer of the early 20th century. A student of Cheltenham Ladies College and St. Hilda's College, Oxford, she was one of the first women students at Oxford. She received her degree in Modern History from Oxford in 1920, the year that graduation was extended to women.
After attending college, she went to France during World War I as a volunteer nurse for the British Red Cross, but her service was cut short by a knee infection. At home, she was known as an intensely private person, even to her own family, and would eventually pass away unmarried.
Between 1911 and 1947, she produced 15 popular novels and several short stories and poems, among these the well-known Couching at the Door: Strange and Macabre Tales, The Vision Splendid (co-authored with G.W. Taylor, a college friend of hers), and The Flight of the Heron and the sequels that make up The Jacobite Trilogy. The Flight of the Heron in particular is known for its impressive historical and geographical accuracy; the author was said to have consulted eighty reference books (!) before writing it.
Broster is often noted for the intense male friendships that appear in several of her novels, most notably The Wounded Name, which "includes a love interest, but the female characters are very secondary and the love stories, whilst ostensibly driving the plot at times, actually take a back seat to the interplay of male personalities which is what really seems to interest D K Broster. Male/female interaction is present but predictable; the real emotional focus is on what is going on between the men.". And though it is not known if Broster intentionally included Homoerotic Subtext in her works, her books contain such deep affection between male friends that they are often read and recommended as gay romance or "pre-slash". Indeed, The Wounded Name, The Flight of the Heron, Mr. Rowl, and many of her other works were highly popular with teenage girls in the mid-20th Century for their romantic male leads, deeply explored themes of loyalty and friendship, dramatic storylines, and a good amount of adventure.
Her writing style (especially in her earlier works) is noticeably dated, but not to the point of being unreadable. Slash fan or not, anyone looking for an entertaining and well-researched historical novel can look to Broster for their next read.
Some of her books have passed into the public domain, and can be found online.
- 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)