It was only after her retirement from teaching in 1921 that Catherine Dodd seriously took up writing. During the subsequent decade she was perhaps the most successful and important Manx novelist.
Born in Castletown in 1860 to a Manx mother from Derbyhaven and a father from Staffordshire, Catherine Isabella Dodd had a remarkably successful teaching career that took her across the UK. After being ‘Mistress of Method’ in the training department of the University of Manchester between 1892 and 1905, Dodd moved to become Head of Milham Ford Secondary School in Oxford. She then finished her career as Principal of Cherwell Hall, an Oxford training college for secondary school teachers.
Following her retirement in 1921, Dodd took up writing and soon established herself as a successful and prolific novelist. Her first novel, The Farthing Spinster appeared in 1925 and was followed by Clad in Purple Mist the following year. By the time of her death in 1932 she had published 13 novels, but it was her earliest books which were once mentioned alongside only T. E. Brown’s poems and the novels of Hall Caine as depicting the true spirit of the Isle of Man. Set in the South of the Island, Dodd’s novels are perhaps the most significant Manx novels to be published in the era immediately following the last book of Hall Caine, released in 1923.
Dodd died of influenza in a London hospital on the 13th of November 1932. From her estate, she left money to the Manx Museum Library, then only 10 years old. Evidently a lady of humour, Dodd also left a sum of £300 to two friends in the hope that they would “utilise the sum, or part of it, in paying for taxicabs”!
Works by Catherine Dodd
Clad in Purple Mist