Thurston, Katherine Cecil (1875–1911), novelist, was born 18 April 1875 in Wood's Gift, Co. Cork, daughter of Paul Madden , chairman of the Ulster and Leinster Bank and twice nationalist lord mayor of Cork, and Catherine Madden (née Barry). Educated privately, she enjoyed horse-riding and swimming as the pursuits of a carefree childhood. Nothing more is known of her life till she married Ernest Temple Thurston in 1901. They divided their time between 20 Victoria Road, Kensington, London, and May Croft, a cottage in Ardmore, Co. Waterford. She wrote in the seclusion of this second home and from it produced her first novel, The circle (1903). John Chilcote, MP (1904) was a great commercial success and sold over 200,000 copies, being published in America as The masquerader (1904). Scripted by her husband, it was produced by Sir George Alexander at St John's Theatre, London, in 1905. She next published The gambler (1906), a romantic melodrama that whirls around a society of social privilege between rural Ireland, Venice, Monte Carlo, and London. The mystics (1907) coincided with the failure of her marriage, as Ernest Temple Thurston left her in December 1907 on the premise that he needed to experience society's depths to inspire his own writing. He was also jealous of her commercial success. Katherine Thurston's The fly on the wheel (1908) is an unusual tale of obsessive love that charts the fall of the Waterford solicitor Stephen Carey; it is perhaps the first Irish novel to feature a motor-car in a love scene. The story ends with Isabel Costello's suicide in front of her lover Stephen and a priest. She takes toxic pills in a glass of wine, a reverse communion that is suggestive of the author's radicalism. Max (1910) is a less successful tale of one twin impersonating another. Thurston obtained her divorce on 7 April 1910 on grounds of her husband's adultery and desertion. An entertaining public speaker with a soft, gentle voice, she was a popular London socialite. Tall and willowy in appearance, she suffered periodically from epilepsy and fainting fits. She died of asphyxiation during one of the latter on 5 September 1911 at Moore's Hotel, Cork. Having visited relatives in the county she was due to remarry the same month, and left the majority of her estate to her fiancé, A. T. Bulkeley Gavin.
Her husband, Ernest Charles Temple Thurston (1879–1933), novelist, was born 23 September 1879 in England. He published two books of poetry when he was sixteen, but his first successful novel was Traffic (1906), five years after his marriage to Katherine Thurston. A brutal tale of conflicting love, it has a central character, Nanno, who is the offspring of a rural Irishwoman and an unnamed English artist. She survives an unhappy marriage and prostitution in London to be rescued by an English bachelor. Ireland is a common theme in his writing; his admiration for Charles Stewart Parnell (qv) in The garden of resurrection (1911) is ironic in the context of the reasons for his own divorce the year before. Einar Bruun produced Enchantment (1917), a novel set again in Ireland, as a film in 1920 with a screenplay by Frank Fowell. May eve (1924) is dedicated to Hazel Lavery (qv), and Jane Carroll (1927) is a romance that pits a TCD history professor against a republican revolutionary for the love of its title character. Thurston married three times: first (1901) Katherine Cecil Madden, secondly (1911) Joan Catherine Cann, and thirdly (1925) Emily Frances Cowlin. Strangely for a man of such passions, he died 19 March 1933 in London from pneumonia contracted after a round of golf. A street in Southall, west London, is named after him.