Masquerade, self-invention and the nation: uncovering the fiction of Katherine Cecil Thurston
Bergin, Alan Thomas
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This dissertation explores the life and works of Cork-born novelist, Katherine Cecil Thurston (1875-1911). Thurston occupies a liminal place in the Irish literary canon in spite of achieving significant transatlantic success during the early years of the twentieth century. An investigation into Thurston's relative neglect will shed light on a body of work that reflected a number of contemporary concerns in Victorian, Edwardian and pre World War I society. Recent research into Thurston's oeuvre has led to the discovery of a large collection of Thurston memorabilia in the National Library of Scotland. An inspection of Thurston's fiction alongside the associated archive material helps generate a much more complete impression of the author, from a personal standpoint through to how she was received at the time both by the contemporary media and public. Her noteworthy success in the American, British and European marketplaces, her status as highly sought-after spokeswoman in London's social circuit and her widely publicised separation from husband and fellow novelist, Ernest Temple Thurston, are all indicative of Thurston's celebrity. However, the author's relatively small body of work, together with her death at a young age has helped contribute to a century of obscurity. In this dissertation, I explore the thematic diversity of Thurston's oeuvre to demonstrate her active contribution to three of the most significant movements in literary history, those being; the New Woman movement of the late nineteenth century; the Irish nationalism debate of the early twentieth century, and the advent of modernism in literature in the early 1910s. The dissertation acts as a reclamation project that calls for Thurston's reconsideration as an Irish novelist of consequence.