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Katharine Burdekin (1896–1963)

Author of Swastika Night

Includes the names: Kay Burdekin, Murray Constantine, Katherine Burdekin

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Katharine Burdekin, née Cade, was born in Derbyshire, England, and educated by a governess and at Cheltenham Ladies' College. She wanted to study at Oxford University, as her brothers did, but her parents would not agree. In 1915, she married Beaufort Burdekin, a barrister, with whom she had two daughters. During World War I, she served as a nurse in an army hospital. The family moved to Australia, where she completed her first novel, Anna Colquhoun (1922). After the end of her marriage, she moved back to the UK. She wrote about 20 novels in her career, about one-third of which were published before her death. She usually used the pen name Murray Constantine, it is said to protect herself and her children from repercussions from the highly political and speculative nature of her books. Her best-known work is the dystopian novel Swastika Night (1937), which has been described as a "scathing feminist anatomy of war, sexism and power" and is now considered a classic. It showed an understanding of the dangers presented by fascist governments in an era when most Europeans and Americans still supported appeasement of Nazi Germany and militaristic Japan. She also wrote short stories, plays, and several children's books as Kay Burdekin. Her work has recently become the subject of considerable interest from scholars, including Prof. Daphne Patai, who discovered the true identity of Murray Constantine in the 1980s.
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