Katharine Burdekin

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Katharine Penelope Burdekin (born Katharine Penelope Cade on July 23, 1896 in Spondon , Derbyshire ; died on August 10, 1963 in Suffolk ) was a British writer . Her best-known work is the novel Swastika Night (German as the night of brown shadows ), which appeared in 1937 under the pseudonym Murray Constantine .


Burdekin grew up in Spondon as the youngest of four children. From 1907 to 1913 she studied at Cheltenham Ladies' College. In 1915 she married Beaufort Burdekin and went to Australia with him. During the First World War she worked as a nurse in an army hospital and as a volunteer in Cheltenham . In 1921 she separated from her husband. When she returned to England with her two daughters, who were born in 1917 and 1921, she lived with her partner from 1926.

From then on Burdekin earned her living as a worker in a shoe factory, a printing shop and a flour mill and published under the author's name Kay Burdekin . Her first novel Anna Colquhoun appeared in 1922 , to which she also wrote a sequel, which she destroyed. Her third novel, The Burning Ring, is a fantastic tale in which the protagonist is the owner of a magic ring and travels through time to different epochs. From then on, elements of fantasy played an important role in her novels, which were increasingly written from a feminist perspective. In The Rebel Passion (1929), for example, the protagonist is moved from a 12th century monastery into a future of the 21st century, where he is confronted with emancipated women and practiced eugenics .

After The Rebel Passion , Burdekin only used the pseudonym Murray Constantine and kept the secret of her identity so strictly that even 20 years after her death the publisher refused to disclose her real name. In 1937 Swastika Night was published , a novel from a future in which Hitler had won the war 700 years earlier. John Clute According to this is the first significant novel, this sci-fi - subject developed. The novel describes a future in which women are considered subhuman breeding creatures and love can only be between men. An old manuscript owned by a descendant of Rudolf Hess tells of the time this world came into being, when Hitler waged a successful war against the Soviet Union and the Jews were annihilated and the misogynous ideology that was now prevailing was established. The novel was first published in German in 1995 under the title Night of the Brown Shadows .

In 1956 Burdekin ended her writing activities. It was not until 1985 that the literary scholar and feminist Daphne Patai ( University of Massachusetts ) made Burdekin's identity as the author of Swastika Night known and researched her work. In 1989 The End of This Day's Business was published , a novel by Burdekin's written as early as 1935, in which the relationships of Swastika Night are reversed: in a feminist utopia 4,000 years in the future, men are now considered to be inferior sex.

About 15 other unpublished manuscripts of Burdekin's novels are said to exist, some of which are also known by title.


  • Anna Colquhoun (1922)
  • The Reasonable Hope (1924)
  • The Burning Ring (1927)
  • St. John's Eve ( children's book, 1927; also as: The Children's Country , 1929)
  • The Children's Country (1929)
  • The Rebel Passion (1929)
  • William Morrow (1929)
  • Quiet Ways (1930)
  • The Devil, Poor Devil! (1934; as Murray Constantine)
  • Proud Man (1934; as Murray Constantine)
  • Swastika Night (1937; as Murray Constantine)
    • English: Night of the brown shadows. Translated by Petra Heßelbarth. Unrast-Roman # 3, Münster 1995, ISBN 3-928300-31-8 .
  • Venus in Scorpio: A Romance at Versailles (historical novel about Marie Antoinette , 1940; as Murray Constantine, with Margaret Leland Goldsmith)
  • The End of This Day's Business (1989, written 1935)


  • Two in a Sack (written 1920)
  • No compromise. A Political Romance (written 1930)
  • Children of Jacob (written 1938)
  • Father to the Man (written 1944)


  • John Clute : Burdekin, Katharine. In: John Clute, Peter Nicholls : The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction . 3rd edition (online edition).
  • Daphne Patai: Afterword to Burdekin's "The End of This Day's Business" . The Feminist Press, New York 1989, ISBN 1-558-61009-X (reprinted from London 1935 edition).
  • Daphne Patai: Introduction to Burdekin's "Swastika Night" . The Feminist Press, New York 1985, ISBN 0-935312-56-0 (reprinted from London 1940 edition).
  • Daphne Patai: Foreword and Afterword to Burdekin's “Proud Man” . The Feminist Press, New York 1993, ISBN 1-558-61070-7 (reprinted from London 1934 edition).
  • Daphne Patai: Orwell's Despair, Burdekin's Hope. Gender and Power in Dystopia . In: Women's Studies International Forum , Vol. 7 (1984), No. 2, ISSN  0277-5395
  • Elizabeth Russell: The Loss of the Feminine Principle in Charlotte Haldane's "Man's World" and Katherine Burdekin's "Swastika Night" . Lucie Armitt (Ed.): Where no man has gone before. Women and science fiction . Routledge, London 1991, ISBN 0-415-04447-2 , pp. 15-28.
  • Theresia Sauter-Bailliet: Dystopian worldviews, with and without hope. A feminist analysis of modern utopian novels by Burdekin, Orwell, and Atwood . In: Feminist Renewal of Science and Art . Centaurus VG, Pfaffenweiler 1990, ISBN 3-89085-320-X , pp. 199–208 (Symposium “Women's Research and Art by Women”, February 16-18, 1989 in Bonn).
  • Lucy Sussex: Burdekin, Katharine . In: Noelle Watson, Paul E. Schellinger: Twentieth-Century Science-Fiction Writers. St. James Press, Chicago 1991, ISBN 1-55862-111-3 , pp. 99 f.
  • Review of Swastika Night . In: Time and Tide. Independent, non-party, June 26, 1937, ISSN  0040-7828 .

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