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About me & the novel

Katy Darby studied English Literature at Somerville College, Oxford and took her MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, where she received the David Higham Award.

Her fiction has been read on BBC Radio 4, and she has published stories in magazines including Slice, Mslexia and The London Magazine , as well as winning prizes in several international fiction competitions (Fish, Arvon and Bridport, among others). Her first novel, The Whores' Asylum , was published by Fig Tree (Penguin) in 2012: the paperback title is The Unpierced Heart

More recently, five of her prizewinning short stories were published in the Arachne Press anthology Five by Five, and her poem "Duct tape, milk, shilling, towels" won the  Shooter Poetry Prize. Two new Sherlock Holmes stories appeared in 2021 with Belanger Books. 

She is Module Leader on the MA in Creative Writing & Publishing at City, University of London and also teaches evening classes in  Short Story Writing and Writers' Workshop there. She is co-founder and Director of the award-winning live fiction event Liars' League . She lives in London and offers private editorial services for authors - just email for details and a rate card (see below).

If you want to get in touch with her, you can email katydarby (at)


Katy Darby

I've been writing fiction since my mid-twenties and have had various stories, plays and poems published (check out the Writing section if you want to know/read more). I grew up in South-East England, Holland and Belgium, studied at Oxford and UEA, and now I live in London - historic Deptford, to be precise. However, most of the novel was written when I lived in a Victorian garret in Kilburn: true fact!


The Whores' Asylum

Here's the back cover blurb from the first edition:

"When you read these words, and all those that follow, I am afraid it must be because I am no longer here to speak them to you.

Love is a disease; no doubt of it, and one which has proved mortal to many men down the ages ..."

Oxford, 1887: Even as Victoria celebrates the 50th year of her reign, a stone's throw from the calm cloisters and college spires lies Jericho, a maze of seedy streets and ill-lit taverns, haunted by drunkards, thieves and the lowest sort of brazen female as ever lifted her petticoats.

When Stephen Chapman, a brilliant young medical student, is persuaded to volunteer at a shelter devoted to reforming the fallen women of Oxford, his closest friend Edward feels a strange sense of dread. But even Edward – who already knows the devastating effect of falling in love with the wrong woman – cannot foresee the macabre and violent events that will unfold around them, or stop the woman who will drive them apart.

A thrilling, gothic debut, and a dark portrait of the fragility and fervour of male friendship, THE WHORES' ASYLUM will pin you to your seat as it ricochets towards its extraordinary and tragic conclusion.

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