Thurston, Katherine Cecil (DNB12)

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THURSTON, Mrs. KATHERINE CECIL (1875–1911), novelist, born at Wood's Gift, Cork, on 18 April 1875, was only child of Paul Madden, banker, of Wood's Gift by his wife Catherine Barry. The father was chairman and director of the Ulster and Leinster bank and an intimate friend of Charles Stewart Parnell [q. v.]. He was elected mayor of Cork and took a leading part in local politics on the nationalist side. Katherine's early life was passed at her father's house, where she was privately educated. Of a vivacious temperament, she became devoted to riding and swimming. But it was not till after her marriage in 1901 to Ernest Charles Temple Thurston, the novelist, that she evinced literary ability.

Her career as a writer began with 'The Circle' (1903), which, if less sensational than her subsequent novels, showed originality. In 1904 she acquired wide fame through the publication of 'John Chilcote, M.P.,' which appeared simultaneously in America under the title of 'The Masquerader.' Mrs. Thurston handled an improbable story of impersonation and mistaken identity with much skill and force. None of her subsequent works attained the same degree of popularity. 'The Gambler' (1906), a brightly written study of Irish life and scenery, was followed by 'The Mystics' (1907) and 'The Fly on the Wheel' (1908), novels of a more conventional type. In 'Max' (1910) Mrs. Thurston repeatad with less success a story of impersonation. In all her work a genuine gift for story-telling is combined with a fluent style and signs of intellectual insight.

Meanwhile domestic disagreements arose with her husband, and on 7 April 1910 she obtained a decree nisi. Mrs. Thurston, who was of delicate health, suffered periodically from fainting fits. She died from asphyxia during a seizure at Moore's Hotel, Cork, on 5 Sept. 1911. She was buried in the family grave at Cork. The bulk of her property passed to her executor, A. T. Bulkeley Gavin, M.D.

[The Times, 8 April 1910 and 7 Sept. 1911; Athenæum, 9 Sept. 1911; private information.]

G. S. W.